The New Normal: Doctors discuss mask mandates in schools and when we could see an end to the pandemic
A new governor in New York is bringing new COVID-19 requirements to the classroom.
Gov. Kathy Hochul used her first day as governor to direct the state’s Department of Health to implement universal masking in schools.
She also said New York "needs to require vaccinations for all school personnel with an option to test out weekly, at least for now." “Later this week, I’ll issue policies that are concise and consistent, giving schools what they asked for," Hochul said.
The first female governor of the state also announced that New York is launching a back-to-school testing program. She says she wants those tests widely available and easy to access.
Superintendent of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District on Long Island Dr. Mary O’Meara's school district had already required masks before the new governor’s decision.
“We were following the CDC guidelines when we deemed our reopening committee and the community has been very supportive of our measures to keep kids safe,” Dr. O’Meara says.
She says with masks and social distancing, students would not have to quarantine if a child contracted COVID because they would not be considered a close contact.
Dr. O’Meara says she hopes that Hochul makes decisions that go along with some of the difficult decisions that local schools have had to made.
“Teachers want to come back, they want to be safe, they want their students to be safe,” Dr. O’Meara says.
Dr. Anthony Fauci also issued a warning that if the United States don’t get the virus under control, it could be months before there is a return to normal.
“If we can get through this winter and get the overwhelming majority of the 90 million people who have not been vaccinated, vaccinated, I hope we can start to get some good control in the spring,” Dr. Fauci says.
Chair of Emergency Medicine at St. Vincent’s Medical Center Dr. Steve Valassis says the goal have always been to get to herd immunity, but the delta variant has caused that to be more difficult.
He says we are still learning about the virus and getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent serious illness.
“There are not hospitals full of people who are vaccinated,” Dr. Valassis says. “There are not hospitals full of people who received the vaccine.”
He says the delta variant and waning immunity means it’s important for people to get a vaccine booster.