New York City has become the latest state to lift mask regulations in schools. Mayor Adams made the announcement at Times Square during a press conference on March 4th, 2022.
The mayor’s declaration follows Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement as she highlighted steep declines in COVID-19 hospitalizations state-wide. Governor Hochul stated that her administration spent the previous weekend meeting with stakeholders such as teachers, parents, leaders, and education officials in order to make her decision on the matter.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new set of guidelines last week. The latest guidelines issued by federal officials recommended that only counties with a high level of COVID-19 infections should continue to enforce mask mandates. Thus making the wearing of masks no longer a necessity for schools in communities with low to medium risk of COVID-19 spread and severity at the community level. New York joins cities and states across the country in relaxing COVID-19 regulations. Neighboring state New Jersey lifted mask mandates in schools on March 7th.
After hearing the news of the mask mandates being lifted for NYC schools, Maud Maron, public school parent and Congressional candidate for NY’s 12th District said, “Mayor Adams continues to make smart decisions that move our city in the right direction. Taking masks off K-12 school children is in keeping with the scientific evidence and is good for kids. Learning and social lives for children of all ages improves. The only thing missing is the order to unmask our toddlers—it makes no sense to impose the heaviest burden on those least at risk.”
Mayor Adams said in his address, “Two years ago, New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic, but thanks to New Yorkers getting vaccinated and getting boosted we have made tremendous progress.” He also added, “The fight may not be over, but we’re clearly winning the war. We are open for business and New York City has its groove back.” The school system’s COVID-19 positive rating is currently 0.18%, according to Chancellor David Banks. He claims that schools are the safest places for school children. Teacher’s unions have offered support to the school mask lifting mandates. In a statement, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew remarked, “Both the take-home tests and the in-school random tests showed no post-holiday spike and put the infection rate at less than 1 percent. This is the responsible, thoughtful way to make our next transition.” Mulgrew stated that the school system intends to maintain its testing program in order to keep infection levels low. Mayor Adams says that he is well aware that some parents might be skeptical and uncomfortable with mask removals. He said, “I know that some who state that they still want their children to wear their masks, and you can. We are not going to get in the way of your discretion.” Masks are still going to be necessary for children under the age of five years due to the fact that they are still not eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. New Yorkers hold opposing viewpoints about kindergarteners not being allowed to remove their masks, some understand the mandate while others feel that it is senseless. Some New Yorkers believe all children should have the mask mandate lifted, including age groups too young for the vaccine.
Natalya Murakhver of Restore Childhood said, “Toddlers and very young kids two to five are literally the only ones still being masked in New York City, while everyone else returns to normal. The mayor says he wants to follow science, but there is literally no science that indicates masking toddlers who need to see facial expressions and enunciation the most, has any net benefits. There is plenty of data to show that it causes plenty of harm. These kids are the least susceptible to negative outcomes from covid-19 and are the most vulnerable to the excessive mitigations that have been used indiscriminately across the age groups. These children should be unmasked now without haste. History will not look back at this period kindly.”
Other regulations are being loosened, returning the city to the closest to normal it has been since COVID-19 surfaced two years ago. This includes no longer needing to provide proof of vaccination to attend restaurants, gyms, and other indoor locations in the city.