Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he is recommending the state end its mask mandate for schools and child care centers on Feb. 28 and allow local officials and school administrators to decide for themselves if masks should be required.

Amid a decline in the state’s COVID-19 infection numbers, the Democrat said residents have the tools they need to protect themselves amid a growing sense that Americans will need to find a way to coexist with the virus.

“What we’ve got to figure out is, how we as a society, we as a state, learn to live with COVID, which hopefully has a diminishing impact upon our state and community for a long time to come.” Lamont said during a briefing with reporters. “And I think we’ve got the tools to do it. We’ve got the tools to keep ourselves safe. We’ve got the tools to keep our schools safe. That’s part of living with it.”

Lamont was one of four governors on Monday who announced plans to lift mask mandates in schools. The governor said he has been in contact with some of his counterparts about the move.

The first-term governor, who is seeking reelection in November, has been criticized for keeping a one-size-fits-all school mask mandate in place by some parents and Republicans, including his probable opponent in the governor’s race.

“Two years into the pandemic, it’s time to move our state forward. Most local mandates in Connecticut towns have been lifted for months. Now is the time to do the same in our schools by empowering parents to make this decision for their own children,” said Bob Stefanowski, a GOP candidate for governor, in a written statement issued Monday morning.

The statewide mask mandate is among nearly a dozen executive orders imposed by Lamont that are set to end Feb. 15 when his public health and civil preparedness emergency declarations are scheduled to expire, following multiple extensions throughout the pandemic. Democratic legislative leaders, who control the General Assembly, recently reached a deal with Lamont to pass a resolution that will continue the emergency declarations and determine which of Lamont’s orders to continue through legislation. Lamont’s plan to end the mask mandate in schools and child care centers is contingent on legislators voting to extend one of the orders that enables the state’s public health commissioner to impose mask requirements in certain settings if necessary, such as if another variant emerges.

However, under Lamont’s plan, as of Feb. 28 it will be up to local school superintendents and other officials to decide whether they need a mask mandate. The state departments of Public Health and Education plan to provide guidance to schools on mitigation strategies that fit the unique needs of each community, considering every city and town has different vaccination rates.

“We have communities that they have 90-plus percent of their students vaccinated and almost 100% of their educators and staff vaccinated in a school building. That’s a very different calculation than if you’ve got 20 or 30% of your students vaccinated and maybe your educators are still over 90%,” said Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

The legislature’s Public Health Committee scheduled a hearing Tuesday to discuss continuing emergency declarations and limited executive orders. A vote by the legislature could come this week after lawmakers convene the new legislative session Wednesday.

Lamont’s administration wants the General Assembly to extend mask mandates in other settings that are considered vulnerable, including state prisons, homeless shelters and health care facilities. Meanwhile, federal rules still require masks on public transportation, such as planes and buses.