New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Suggests Students May Have to Wear Masks When Schools Resume

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy suggested Friday that students may have to wear protective masks when schools reopen.

When asked at his daily coronavirus press conference as to whether or not he expects students will have to wear masks once schools reopen in the state, Murphy, who extended school closure to May 15, said it was his "personal opinion" that students would have to wear masks.

"I would bet the answer is yes, that we will be masked when kids go back to school. That would be my personal guess," the governor said. He added: "I've given you a personal opinion on the kids wearing, but that would be mu guess. That's an opinion not a mandate."

"That's my answer today based on what we all know today, but let's see what that looks like when we make any other decisions. But again, schools are remote learning at least until May 15...We have not made the decision that we're going back to school on the 15th," Murphy said.

Schools have been closed in all of New Jersey by executive order since March 18. The governor said he extended school closures "deliberately" for four weeks from Friday, with input from Judith Persichilli, the commissioner of the state's Department of Health; Christina Tan, the state epidemiologist; and Lamont Repollet, the Commissioner of Education.

"I want to not just say for the folks who are impacted by our decision on schools, in particular the seniors out there, in particular the seniors who play sports or have other activities, the seniors who want to find some way to acknowledge and commemorate their graduation," Murphy said.

"We know you're probably the most impacted of the school communities, including your folks and your families, but we also did that deliberately because we hope to know a whole lot more, as we now know versus our weeks ago. We hope to know a whole lot more as we round into May 15."

Murphy encouraged citizens to continue complying with social distancing guidelines and the stay-at-home order even though "it's not fun," acknowledging that people are getting "stir-crazy."

"We are cracking the back of a once-a-century killer here. This is the fight of our lives and we are winning it, but we have to stay at it and if we do my gut tells me the news gets better," the governor said.

New Jersey had 78,467 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 3,840 deaths, the second most on both counts in the United States behind New York.

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SECAUCUS, NJ - APRIL 2: New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tours an emergency field hospital being prepared at the Meadowlands Expo Center on April 2, 2020 in in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael Mancuso-Pool/Getty Images) Michael Mancuso-Pool/Getty