Gov. Phil Murphy is encouraging local school districts to enact new mask mandates for students and staff if they are in high transmission areas for COVID, but will not impose a statewide mandate, for now.

Murphy says his administration is "looking at what options we need to take," but says predictive modeling from the Department of Health indicates the current wave will peak in the "next week or two."

As more New Jersey counties move from moderate to high transmission levels, individual school districts have announced a return to masking.

Prospect Park Elementary School is the latest to mandate universal masking of students and staff until further notice.

"School districts," Murphy said, "Particularly if they're in those counties (that have a high transmission rate), have every right to say, ‘Listen, we need the kids and educators to put masks back on when they're indoors.”

When asked about making it a state directive, Murphy replied, "no news to make today."

NJ Department of Health
NJ Department of Health

On Monday, Metuchen announced a return to masking on school buses and inside all school buildings until further notice.

The South Orange-Maplewood School district is requiring masks at the Clinton and South Mountain Elementary schools, and strongly encouraging them for other schools.

Based on the latest metrics on the CDC's data tracker, all residents are being urged to resume universal masking both indoors and outside in the nine counties where transmission rates are high.

Those counties are: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Gloucester, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean and Sussex.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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