New Jersey's statewide school mask mandate will expire on March 7, Governor Phil Murphy announced Monday.
The decision comes as COVID cases in New Jersey have plummeted 95 percent from their Omicron-fueled peak in early-January.
Murphy added that school districts can continue their own mask mandates if they deem it necessary. Furthermore, schools are not permitted to ban masks.
The move has the support of the New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, which released a statement Monday saying it was "cautiously optimistic" about a return to maskless schools if the current downward trend in COVID continues.
Murphy, who was re-elected as governor this past November, was repeatedly attacked over the school mask mandate during a hotly contested gubernatorial campaign.
He says his administration has always followed experts' advice with regards to COVID policy, and masks were never meant to be permanent.
In addition to declining case numbers in the Garden State, warmer weather by March will give schools more options in terms of ventilating classrooms, therefore limiting potential exposure to the virus in schools.
During the height of Omicron last month, NJ was reporting more than 20,000 new infections per day. On Sunday, the state reported just 1,625 new COVID cases.