NYC ends school mask mandate in key stage of recovery

School children on the Upper East Side in eastern New York showed up in classrooms Monday morning with nothing on their faces — except, ...


School children on the Upper East Side in eastern New York showed up in classrooms Monday morning with nothing on their faces — except, perhaps, the remnants of a milk mustache.

In other words: masks are now optional for New York public school children starting in kindergarten.

It was a day that some had yearned for and others believed it had come too soon, sparked by Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to lift the mask mandate in New York schools. The move came hours after Governor Kathy Hochul announced it would lift the statewide mandate.

The New York City Department of Education noted it would continue to require daily health checks and that students returning from suspected coronavirus infections must wear masks for several days. Additionally, the Department of Education strongly recommends that students or staff exposed to the virus wear face coverings, although it does not require them to do so.

Since Omicron’s surge subsided, pandemic restrictions have been lifted in many states, including New York, allowing local authorities to make their own decisions on masks. In Connecticutthe decision was left to the localities at the end of last month, while in New Jerseyrules similar to those in New York also go into effect on Monday.

Like so many other virus restriction rollbacks, this one has been met with an anxious mix of excitement, hope and worry.

While New York City has a higher vaccination rate than the national figure, rates among children have continued to lag and aren’t consistent across schools.

A recent study from the New York State Department of Health found that, as with adults, most children hospitalized for or with Covid-19 were unvaccinated. The report also found that children aged 4 and under, who are not eligible for coronavirus vaccines, were overrepresented among all pediatric hospitalizations. Masks will continue to be mandatory for children aged 2 to 4 in kindergarten and preschool classes.

The United Federation of Teachers, which represents educators in New York City’s public schools, said Friday it supports moving to a system where masks are optional. Chairman Michael Mulgrew called it “a responsible and thoughtful way to make our next transition.”

Even so, the union stressed the importance of maintaining a strong school and home testing program to ensure the city, with more than a million children in its public schools, remains “on track. “.

Some parents, public health experts and local officials said it was too early to ease restrictions, and some urged children and teachers to continue wearing masks.

With the end of the statewide mandate, some districts began going mask-free as early as last week.

The complicated mix of emotions was on display at Cynthia Jenkins Elementary School in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood of Queens, where approximately 11% of the school’s students are fully immunized.

Natalie Charles, the mother of second-grader Ethan Scarlett, said she wasn’t entirely comfortable with giving up masks. “That’s what I told him, you have to keep the mask on,” she said, adding that her whole family was vaccinated.

Ms Charles wondered why the mask mandate was ending while schools were still testing students. These mixed signals contributed to her decision, she said.

A slightly shy 7-year-old Ethan just nodded maskedly in agreement with his mother.

Sadef Ali Kully contributed report.

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Newsrust - US Top News: NYC ends school mask mandate in key stage of recovery
NYC ends school mask mandate in key stage of recovery
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