NYC Schools Mask Mandates- What Parents need to Know Now that NJ Lifts the School Mask Mandates
New Jersey will no longer require students and teachers to wear masks in schools, Governor Phil Murphy announced yesterday, prompting local representatives to urge state and city officials to lift New York school mask mandates.
“Thankfully, we have reached a point where we feel confident that we can take another step toward normalcy for our kids,” Murphy said. “Given the continued drop in new cases and hospitalizations, projections indicating a continued decline over the coming weeks, and the continued growth of vaccinations for our school-aged population, we believe that we can responsibly end the universal mask mandate.”
Masks and facial coverings will no longer be mandated for students, staff or visitors in schools and childcare centers in the state effective March 7. The governor said school districts and childcare facilities can continue to implement their own policies after the mandate is lifted.
New Jersey isn’t the only metro-area state rescinding mask mandates in schools. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont also announced that masks will no longer be required in schools and childcare centers as of Feb. 28.
“Connecticut is seeing a dramatic decline in cases caused by the Omicron variant, and children over the age of 5 have had the ability to get vaccinated for more than three months now,” Lamont said. “With this in mind, I think we are in a good position to phase out the requirement that masks be worn in all schools statewide and shift the determination on whether to require this to the local level.”
Local Officials Pressured to Lift New York Mask Mandates
The new policy changes are prompting local representatives to urge state and city officials to lift school mask mandates in New York.
“With the governor of New Jersey announcing that he is removing the mask mandate for school children in his state as of mid-March, I am once again urging New York state and city leaders to follow suit and eliminate the mask mandate for our school children, and allow parents to make the choice for their child,” Vito Fossella, borough president of Staten Island, said.
The beep cited the frequenting of Staten Islanders to New Jersey where there are less restrictive measures for dining, entertainment and other activities, adding that they are taking their spending dollars with them.
“We’ve passed the point where New York can eliminate the mandates, make masks optional and give our kids back the freedom to learn, socialize and enjoy being kids.”
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman took to twitter to voice his opinion.
“I guess the Democrats and “health experts” they spoke with aren’t advising the Democratic governors of New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware – ALL of whom announced plans to #unmaskourkids today,” Blakeman wrote. “Where is Governor Hochul? What are her metrics? Why is the Empire State last?”
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said she will assess the situation in the state and hopes to follow what New Jersey is doing.
“I’m going to continue to head in that direction. We’re hoping to get to that, I’ve said that for weeks, that is our goal,” Hochul said. “But I’m going to continue looking at the metrics. And the one thing I’m asking all parents to do, and the pediatricians who advise them, let’s get more children vaccinated so they have that suit of armor they need to be protected.”
NYC Mayor Eric Adams said he wants students to continue to wear masks and encourages vaccination.
“I will continue to follow the science and the guidance of public health professionals to keep New Yorkers safe,” Adams said. “Students should continue to wear a mask at school and I encourage all New Yorkers to get vaccinated and boosted to stop the spread.”
Experts Weigh in on Eliminating Masks Schools
The debate over masks in schools has been one of the many divisive topics that erupted throughout the course of the pandemic, regionally and around the country.
Some doctors are warning that ending school mask mandates will lead to a rise in COVID cases.
Experts say it is too soon to end mask mandates in schools because vaccination rates are not high enough yet among the school-age population, according to an ABC News report.
“It is not safe at this time for schools to rescind mask mandates [because] even though we do have decent levels of vaccination in the older age groups, as populations get younger, the proportion who are vaccinated gets lower,” Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of the department of preventive medicine and a professor of epidemiology and pulmonary and critical care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told ABC News.
New York’s mask-wearing mandate for schools is expiring on Feb. 21.