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WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ — Furious parents vowed their children would not wear masks to school in the upcoming academic year, despite a mask mandate issued by Gov. Phil Murphy.

Wall Township School Board President Ralph Addonizio said while the district will not defy the order, they will push back against it. He cited the negative psychological and emotional impact mask mandates can have on kids.

“The biggest problem we have is the fact that a local home rule was taken away from us,” Addonizio said. “I fully understand the value of masks but it comes down to a local decision right now in our town we do not see the need for it.”

Advocacy Group Jersey 1st is filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 100 parents. They argue a surge of COVID infections in some parts of New Jersey shouldn’t impact everyone.

But as tensions have escalated, so have cases of COVID among children. There were almost 94,000 cases added in the week ending Aug. 5; children represented 15 percent of all cases, American Academy of Pediatrics data shows. It’s been a “continuing substantial increase.”

Experts say that when you consider how infectious the delta variant is, letting kids go to schools without masks will leads to outbreaks and shutdowns.

“This is public health,” Dr. Ryan Hes, medical director of Gramarcy Pediatrics, said. “When you hear the word ‘mandate,’ it gets totally politicized like we are taking away peoples civil rights. We want you to live so you can have rights.”