Even though masks will be optional in many school districts across New Jersey starting March 7, the day Gov. Phil Murphy ends his statewide mandate, children will continue have to wear masks on the school buses.
Alyana Alfaro, spokeswoman for the governor confirmed that unless the federal Department of Transportation changes its rules NJ school kids will still have to wear masks on the bus to and from school.
“School buses are subject to federal masking regulations,” said Murphy spokeswoman Alyana Alfaro, who referred to this FAQ from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Yes, school bus operators, including operations by public school districts, and their passengers are required to wear masks as defined by the Order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) … the CDC states that passengers and drivers on school buses must wear a mask unless the driver is the only person on the bus. This requirement applies to all school buses whether publicly or privately owned,” wrote the federal DOT.
A federal DOT spokesperson said Thursday they stand by that FAQ and it is still valid despite being challenged since it was introduced a year ago.
The Department of Transportation said it is only following the Biden CDC’s order from January 29, 2021 that requires masks be worn on all forms of public transportation, including school buses, subways, trains and airplanes.
“It is important to note, the end of the mask mandate does not relate to school buses,” the Freehold Regional High School District wrote in an email home to parents Tuesday. “The federal requirement that masks be work on public transportation remains in place. This means that while riding on a school bus, a mask must still be worn.”
Similarly, Massachusetts, which plans to lift its school mask mandate Feb. 28, states that children will still have to wear a mask on the bus throughout the state.
Biden appointed, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Reuters Tuesday that she actually disagrees with the ending of in-school mask mandates being done by New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, California and Oregon, saying “now is not the moment.” Walensky has come under much criticism for her “dictator like” mandates, which are being challenged in Federal Supreme Court as a blatant violation of the First Amendment rights of all American citizens, regardless of where they live.
Some states never had a school mask mandate, such as Florida. The Miami-Dade school district first wanted kids to wear masks on the school bus, but then had to pull the order after Gov. Ron DeSantis said school districts would lose state funding if masks were not made an individual choice.
DeSantis said his order applied even to school buses, apparently defying the federal Department of Transportation (who legally has no jurisdiction to make such mandates, like the recent OSHA mandates which had to be rescinded.