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NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — As New Jersey’s COVID numbers start to slowly drop, Gov. Phil Murphy predicted Thursday that schools in the Garden State could reach a point before the end of this school year where masks are no longer required.

“I think there’s a real shot of that,” Murphy said confidently when asked by PIX11’s Dan Mannarino if he could foresee a time this year when masks are not seen in schools.

“I don’t mean this calendar year. You’re speaking about the school year that ends in June, ” the governor clarified. “I think there’s a real shot of that,” he repeated, doubling down on his optimistic prediction.

Murphy acknowledged New Jersey was just starting to turn the corner with its COVID cases and hospitalizations.

“But it certainly looks like we’ve begun to turn the corner here,” he said. “God willing, we keep that progress up.”

The governor’s prediction came just before first lady Jill Biden was set to visit a New Jersey college on Thursday to make an announcement reportedly about federal aid for schools alongside Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.