Gov. Hochul ending state school mask mandate Wednesday
Students, parents, and teachers are preparing for a major change in the classroom this week as the state’s mask mandate is set to be lifted on Wednesday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Sunday that the statewide masking requirement in schools would be lifted by March 2.
Gov. Hochul cited declining COVID-19 cases and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gov. Hochul says counties and cities could keep their own mandates in place, and parents could still choose to send their kids to school in masks.
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"This is what they've been asking for, for local control and we stood firm until the numbers were down, hospitalizations were down, pediatric cases were down," Hochul told News 12 on "The New Normal" Monday.
Robert Dillon, district superintendent and CEO of Nassau BOCES, says this is a "time of transition," and that the New York state Education Department is in ongoing discussions about what comes next on Wednesday when the masks come off.
"That is something that needs to be addressed, and what that means, the social distancing will have an impact on how schools change or continue to with their program as they had during COVID," Dillon says.
The new rules effective Wednesday apply to children 2 years and older in child care facilities.
Earlier this month, Gov. Hochul let a broad mask mandate for most indoor settings expire, but said the school's requirement would remain in place.
The broad mask mandate was implemented during a COVID-19 surge fueled by the Omicron variant in December.
Some parents say they were still going to be cautious and have their children wear masks, while students at Bethpage High School seem ready for the change.
"I'm more happy than concerned, we've been wearing them for more than a year," says Elizabeth Meneses. "It's exciting to get back to the way things used to be."
Gov. Hochul said that if a student wants to continue wearing a mask, they can – and that there will be no tolerance for bullying from children or their parents.