Skip to main content
CloseSearch

Back to School With a Mask… And Maybe a Vax

Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

Most support school mask mandate; divided on potential vaccine requirement

West Long Branch, NJ – Two-thirds of New Jersey voters, including parents of school-age children, support the state’s school mask mandate, but they are more divided on the idea of requiring Covid vaccination for age-eligible children. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll finds that anxiety about the risk of illness from Covid has inched up since May as has concern that the state’s efforts to stop the spread have not gone far enough. Still, a majority of voters say New Jersey has been doing better than other states in dealing with the pandemic. Also, Gov. Phil Murphy and President Joe Biden get positive marks for their handling of the outbreak, although both numbers have declined since May.

Just under half (48%) of Garden State voters say the state’s schools should be fully open for in-person instruction in the fall while 39% say they should have a mix of in-person and remote instruction. Just 8% say they should be fully remote. In May, a slightly larger number of voters (56%) said schools should plan to be fully in person this year. Among parents of children under 18 years old, 53% say schools should be fully in person (down from 61% in May), while 40% prefer a hybrid model (up from 31%), and 6% want fully remote instruction (similar to 7% in May).

Fully two-thirds of registered voters (67%) – and parents specifically (69%) – support the requirement that students, teachers, and staff in New Jersey schools wear face masks this year. In terms of a possible vaccine mandate, just over half of all voters (53%) would approve of requiring children age 12 and older to be vaccinated in order to attend school in person. Just under half (45%) support the same requirement for school children under 12 years old if a vaccine is authorized for that age group in the coming months. Parents, on the other hand, are somewhat less supportive of vaccine mandates for school attendance – 44% approve of requiring vaccines for the middle to high school age group and 39% would support that requirement for younger children.

“The vocal opposition to the state’s school mask mandate is a decidedly minority view. However, there may be greater pushback from parents if a vaccine mandate was instituted for school children,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Looking at efforts to control the spread of Covid in New Jersey in general, there has been a drop in the number of voters who say state government measures to slow the virus have been appropriate (from 58% in May to 45% now). At the same time, the number saying the state has not gone far enough has increased from 13% to 24%. Another 1 in 4 (25%) say the state Covid measures have gone too far, which is similar to three months ago (28%).

A clear majority (62%) of New Jersey voters support reinstituting general face mask and social distancing guidelines, while 35% are opposed to this. Support for reinstating these measures comes from majorities of Democrats (86%) and independents (58%), but only 28% of Republicans.

Just over 4 in 10 (43%) voters are very concerned about a family member becoming seriously ill from Covid, which is up slightly from May (37%). Still, significantly more voters (51%) say New Jersey has been doing better than other states in handling the pandemic than say it has done worse (17%).

“The delta variant has raised public concern, but New Jerseyans look at what is happening in places like Florida and Texas and feel we have things under better control here,” said Murray.

Six in ten voters (61%) say Gov. Murphy is doing a good job dealing with the outbreak, which is down slightly from 65% who said the same three months ago. Murphy’s overall job rating as governor stands at 54% approve and 36% disapprove (compared with a 57% to 36% rating in May).

Just over half (54%) of New Jersey voters say President Biden has done a good job handling the pandemic, which is down from 65% in May. Biden’s overall job rating in the Garden State stands at 51% approve and 41% disapprove (compared with a 55% to 40% rating in May).

Currently, 79% of New Jersey voters report receiving at least one Covid vaccine dose. Another 2% plan to get it as soon as possible and 5% are still waiting for other people to get vaccinated and see how it goes. One in ten voters (10%) say they will never get the vaccine if they can avoid it. The level of outright opposition to the vaccine by New Jersey voters has declined slightly from 14% in May, and is lower than the comparable national figure (16% in a Monmouth University Poll taken last month). Republicans (18%) and independents (12%) are more likely than Democrats (3%) to fall into the anti-vax group, although the number has declined among all three partisan groups since May.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 11 to 16, 2021 with 810 New Jersey registered voters. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-14 previously released.]

15.Do you approve or disapprove of the job Phil Murphy is doing as governor?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
Approve54%57%72%40%42%43%
Disapprove36%36%21%41%43%30%
(VOL) No opinion10%7%7%19%16%27%
   (n)(810)(661)(635)(651)(549)(632)

16.Do you approve or disapprove of the job Joe Biden is doing as president?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
May
2021
Approve51%55%
Disapprove41%40%
(VOL) No opinion9%5%
   (n)(810)(661)

17.How concerned are you about someone in your family becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus outbreak – very concerned, somewhat concerned, not too concerned, or not at all concerned?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Very concerned43%37%61%
Somewhat concerned25%26%24%
Not too concerned17%20%8%
Not at all concerned12%16%5%
(VOL) Has already happened1%2%1%
(VOL) Don’t know1%0%0%
   (n)(810)(661)(635)

[QUESTIONS 18 & 19 WERE ROTATED]

18.Has Governor Murphy done a good job or bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Good job61%65%80%
Bad job28%28%10%
(VOL) Mixed, depends6%6%7%
(VOL) Don’t know6%1%3%
   (n)(810)(661)(635)

19.Has President Biden done a good job or bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS  TRUMP
Aug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Good job54%65%41%
Bad job31%27%53%
(VOL) Mixed, depends8%5%5%
(VOL) Don’t know7%3%1%
 (n)(810)(661)(635)

20.Do you think New Jersey is doing better, worse, or about the same as other states in dealing with the pandemic?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
May
2021
Better51%50%
Worse17%25%
 About the same27%24%
(VOL) Don’t know5%1%
   (n)(810)(661)

21.Have the measures taken by the New Jersey state government to slow the spread of the virus been appropriate, have they gone too far, or have they not gone far enough?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
May
2021
April
2020
Appropriate45%58%65%
Gone too far25%28%11%
Not gone far enough24%13%22%
(VOL) Don’t know5%2%1%
   (n)(810)(661)(635)

22.Do you support or oppose reinstituting face mask and social distancing guidelines in New Jersey at the current time?  [Do you support/oppose that strongly or somewhat?]

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
Strongly support45%
Somewhat support17%
Somewhat oppose14%
Strongly oppose21%
(VOL) Don’t know3%
   (n)(810)

23.Based on where we stand right now, how should New Jersey schools handle the new school year – should they be fully open for in-person instruction, have a mixture of remote and in-person instruction, or should they be fully remote?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
May
2021*
Fully in person48%56%
Mixture remote and in person39%35%
Fully remote8%6%
(VOL) Don’t know6%2%
   (n)(810)(661)

        * May 2021 poll asked how schools should handle “planning for the new school year starting in the fall.”

24.The state is requiring that students, teachers, and staff in all New Jersey schools wear face masks this year. Do you approve or disapprove of this decision?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
Approve67%
Disapprove28%
(VOL) Depends3%
(VOL) Don’t know2%
   (n)(810)

25.Would you approve or disapprove of requiring children who are age 12 and older to get the Covid vaccine in order to attend school in person?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
Approve53%
Disapprove38%
(VOL) Depends4%
(VOL) Don’t know5%
   (n)(810)

26.The vaccine may also be authorized for children under age 12 in the coming months. If that happens, would you approve or disapprove of requiring children under age 12 to get the Covid vaccine in order to attend school in person?

REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
Approve45%
Disapprove44%
(VOL) Depends5%
(VOL) Don’t know6%
   (n)(810)

27.Have you, yourself, received at least one dose of Covid vaccine, or not? [If NOT:] Do you plan to get the Covid vaccine as soon as possible, will you continue to let other people get it first to see how it goes, or is it likely you will never get the vaccine if you can avoid it?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERSAug.
2021
May
2021
Already received vaccine79%66%
As soon as possible2%5%
See how it goes5%13%
Likely will never get vaccine10%14%
(VOL) Don’t know4%2%
(n)(810)(661)

[Q28-34 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from August 11 to 16, 2021 with a statewide random sample of 810 New Jersey voters drawn from a list of registered voters. This includes 227 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 583 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for party registration, age, gender, race, education, and region based on state voter registration list information and U.S. Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter sample). For results based on the full voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.


DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
REGISTERED VOTERS
 
Self-Reported Party
21% Republican
43% Independent
36% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
23% 18-34
30% 35-54
47% 55+
 
64% White, non-Hispanic
13% Black
14% Hispanic
  8% Asian/Other
 
56% No degree
44% 4 year degree

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs