New Jersey kids can breathe a little easier: Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday he’ll end the state’s school-mask mandate next month. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams should follow, but do Jersey one better, and end the mandates entirely.
Ignoring the science, Murphy will let districts impose their own mandates. That’s unfair to the kids, and harmful to many of them.
Typically, Hochul’s initial reaction to Murphy’s move was utterly mealy-mouthed: She told The Post, “We are going assess our situation in New York . . . I am going to head in that direction . . . but I’m going to continue looking at the metrics.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Masks for kids never made sense. If they don’t have underlying conditions, COVID poses them no real risk. Their infections are mild or asymptomatic.
Meanwhile, a new study out of the UK’s York University confirms that masks are making it difficult for young children to recognize faces, which in turn compromises their ability to socialize and make friends. Ample other research shows that mask rules do nothing to actually protect kids.
In good part, because they’re just not at risk: Per CDC data, around 300 American kids under age 5 died in total from January 2020 to January 2022. COVID killed around 1,000 under-18s in the same period. That’s out of almost 900,000 total deaths. Plus almost all of these children had other medical conditions in addition to COVID.
The pandemic has largely spared the youngest. But policymakers still ignore or obfuscate this huge fact.
Adams has shown some spine on kids and COVID. He rightly stood his ground on keeping city schools open. And he noted Monday that school positivity rates have dropped below 1%.
But he stuck by the school-mask requirement even when a judge (temporarily) struck down the state order. And not even the plummeting case rate could get Hochul to float any definite clawback of her requirement.
Murphy’s order gives her cover to be bold — and not give New Yorkers (especially parents of younger kids) another reason to move elsewhere. (Does she even wonder why the Empire State has led the nation in out-migration these past two years?)
As for Adams: City public-school enrollment is crashing, with about 75% of schools seeing drops and 23% seeing declines of 10% or higher for this academic year. Silly COVID policies (like masking and far-too-frequent closures) are a big cause.
The right thing to do here — ending a bad, know-nothing policy — is also the best political bet. Pray the gov and mayor have enough sense to see this, and enough spine to act.