Poll: Masks in school? Yes. Mandatory vaccination? Not so much

While 2 out of 3 support masks, only 53% approve of mandatory vaccination

Two out of three New Jersey voters, including parents of school-age children, support the state’s school mask mandate, but they are more divided on the idea of requiring COVID-19 vaccination for age-eligible children, according to a Monmouth University Poll released Monday.

In terms of a possible vaccine mandate, just over half of all voters (53%) would approve of requiring children age 12 and older to be vaccinated in order to attend school in person. Just under half (45%) supported the same requirement for schoolchildren under 12 years old if a vaccine is authorized for that age group in the coming months.

Parents were somewhat less supportive of vaccine mandates for school attendance: 44% approve of requiring vaccines for the middle to high school age group and 39% would support that requirement for younger children.

Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the results are telling.

“The vocal opposition to the state’s school mask mandate is a decidedly minority view,” he said. “However, there may be greater pushback from parents if a vaccine mandate was instituted for schoolchildren.”

Among the findings:

Mask wearing by students, staff:

  • All respondents: 67%
  • Parents: 69%

How students should be taught:

  • Fully in-person: 48%
  • Hybrid: 39%
  • All remote: 8%

State’s overall COVID efforts:

  • Have been appropriate: 45%, down from 58% in May
  • Gone far enough: 24%, up from 13% in May
  • Gone too far: 25%, down from 28% in May

New Jersey response comparted to other states:

  • Better: 51%
  • Worse: 17%

Mask wearing, social distancing by all:

  • For: 62%
  • Against: 35%

Murray said the poll numbers explain why Gov. Phil Murphy’s approval rating (54%) remains high. (See full story here.)

“The Delta variant has raised public concern, but New Jerseyans look at what is happening in places like Florida and Texas and feel we have things under better control here,” he said.

Methodology: The poll was conducted by telephone from Aug. 11-16, with 810 New Jersey registered voters. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.