New Jersey public schools will require students to wear masks during the upcoming school year, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has announced.

Even though New Jersey has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country (with 68.5 percent of the eligible population being fully vaccinated), COVID-19 infections are on the rise again, prompting the governor to reinstate school mask requirements, said Murphy spokesperson Mahen Gunaratna.

Back in June, Murphy said he would let school districts make their own decisions about masks; however, the governor made it clear that this policy was subject to change, depending on COVID-19 cases. “I don’t want to go backward—that’s the last thing I want to do—but we’ll do what we have to do.”

Over the past week, the state has seen daily case rates of over 1,000, with the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths occurring among unvaccinated populations.

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The CDC is now recommending that all faculty and students in K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

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