Will the mask removal extend lunch periods?


Photo Credit: Photo via Mrs. Allen

Colonia High School 2022 Seniors eating lunch.

By: Jackie Poznanski, Editor

For the first time since the pandemic, New Jersey school districts will have the ability to eliminate the school mask mandate. Despite the unpredictable effects, students express the following question: Will the mask removal extend lunch periods?


Governor Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey is a Democrat who has placed some of the country’s most firm pandemic mandates in the past. New Jersey is one of the 11 states that have made wearing masks mandatory for all students back in September. However, recently he declared that New Jersey will no longer require students and teachers to wear masks.

“Balancing public health with getting back to some semblance of normalcy is not easy. But we can responsibly take this step due to declining COVID numbers and growth in vaccinations,” Governor Murphy tweeted on February 7th, 2022.

Districts will soon be under a lot of heat when they decide whether it is appropriate to unmask their children. Individual school districts will be free to continue to require masks once the mandate ends. This new policy will take effect on March 7th, 2022.

The Case Numbers

Many parents, students, teachers, and community members are happy to stop wearing masks while many are concerned. All of these emotions are valid enough where consideration must follow. Many feel that taking away the masks will help society return to normalcy, while others believe the COVID variant Omicron is still an issue.

The CDC has made it clear that masks protect both the wearer and those around from becoming sick. Furthermore, two studies that were published in September by the CDC continued to recommend that children two and older wear masks at school and in daycare. The evidence found proves that masks do play an important role in preventing in-school transmission.

Murphy cited the “dramatic decline in our COVID numbers” in announcing the data. The omicron variant fired a spike in cases over the holidays, but cases in the state are down 50% and hospitalizations have decreased by one-third.

Lunch Periods

Lunch periods are only 15 minutes per group due to contact tracing. Students were told that in order to protect each other from getting sick, we cannot be unmasked for more than 15 minutes. This made it difficult for students to get their food and finish before the class bell. However, since the mask mandate is soon going to be optional- will the mask removal extend lunch periods?

Some people believe, “Short lunches eliminate student confrontation and maintain the civil learning environment.”

Students are packed with school work, tests, projects, and homework each and every day. Lunch is a period of social interaction that allows for students to take a mental break from their studies. Therefore, since the removal of the mask mandate is being implemented to increase the sense of normalcy; should we give back social time?

I believe it is crucial for social skills to be a priority after two years of isolation. Students lack in-school interaction and have forgotten what it means to be social. This is a life quality that needs practice in order to be successful in life situations. As a result, if the mask mandate removal remains true, I believe schedule changes will need to be made in order to maintain normalcy.