As the temperature rises, school officials are empowered to relax masking among students and staff in buildings given extreme weather conditions, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday.

At a routine state briefing on pandemic response, Murphy said that discretion was already a part of the existing directive on mask wearing at schools during the pandemic.

Outdoor summer camps would not require masking among children or staffers based on updated CDC guidance, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said at the same briefing.

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When asked about what defines excess heat, Persichilli said they would leave that up to schools and camps based on their own areas, "We need to just trust that they'll do the right thing."

On Friday, Murphy signed legislation which in part ended the Public Health Emergency, calling it “another step to a relative position of normalcy.”

Two days earlier, the governor and U.S. Secretary of Education U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Bergenfield High School together, where the emphasis was on a return to in-person learning at all schools in the fall.

During that appearance, Murphy was asked about whether masks might not be required at schools by the 2021-2022 school year, to which he said there "was a chance."

A growing number of school districts have asked the governor in recent weeks to consider dropping the mask mandate at schools, as school boards and administrators have faced more backlash in communities over the continued requirement.

While following the updated CDC guidance, the state would still strongly encourage unvaccinated individuals to continue wearing masks when in close contact for longer periods of time, Persichilli also said.

As of Monday, 5.03 million people had gotten at least one vaccine dose in the state, while 4.37 million were fully vaccinated. That number included roughly 169,000 people who received their shots out of state, according to data.

There also were 431 COVID patients hospitalized across the state, at the lowest level since September, with the rate of transmission at .71 and the positivity rate at 1.06%.

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