Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday the state has identified approximately 6 million KN95 and surgical masks and 500,000 additional child-size masks that it will make available to schools on an as-needed basis.
The masks will be available free of charge. Most New Jersey schools open next week.
Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing, said the state also is prepared to enforce its masking mandate — a mandate that applies to all adults and students with “extremely limited” exceptions.
“We do not — and will not — take lightly to any district or any school that tries to finagle their way out of their responsibility for protecting public health,” he said. “And, let’s just be perfectly clear that if you try to do so, you are only putting your students, educators, support staff, administrators and everyone else in your school — plus their families and your communities — at risk.”
Murphy said he was offering a “polite suggestion” that the state’s mandate is a matter of public health, not something to be turned into something political.
“I would remind those who continue to oppose public safety and common sense that this is no time for selfishness or political posturing,” he said. “This is the time for selflessness and putting our schools on the best possible footing with regard to providing full-time, in-person instruction and protecting public health, period.”
Murphy said the masks have been identified by the Office of Emergency Management within the New Jersey State Police. He said they will be available to districts on an as-needed basis for students or staff who might forget, damage or misplace their own masks.