New York City toddlers won’t be required to wear masks in schools or day cares starting Monday, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday morning in a move that lifted the public school system’s last remaining mask mandate.
Details: Adams, who has felt pressure from parents and advocates to nix the requirement sooner, said schools “have remained the safest place for our children” throughout the current Covid-19 wave. The move also affects city-funded day care centers.
“I have always said that the science will guide us out of the pandemic, and because we have followed the data, which shows that cases are steadily falling, we‘ve beaten back the latest Covid-19 surge,” Adams said in a statement. “New Yorkers stepped up when we needed them most and have put us on the path to lower risk.”
Ashwin Vasan, the city’s health commissioner, took to Twitter Thursday to declare the city is past the “peak of this wave.” Cases have fallen since May 23, he said.
Still, the mayor is encouraging everyone to wear a mask indoors.
“[W]e will continue to make masks available for any child or school staff member who wishes to continue wearing them,” Adams said. “I’m with New York City parents, and New Yorkers can trust this administration to continue to make the proper public health decisions to keep our kids safe.”
How we got here: The city lifted the indoor mask mandate for New York City public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade in early March, but retained the requirement for toddlers — citing their ineligibility for vaccines, and the age group’s higher-than-average hospitalization rates. The prior decision prompted protest from parents and advocates, some of whom cheered Thursday’s announcement.
“I think there’s a difference between a recommendation and a mandate … I think parents finally have that choice and I think the mandate part of it is what made all of us really uncomfortable,” said Sumayya Ahmad, a member of NYC Toddler Parents for Mask Choice, a group that exists mostly on WhatsApp with about 220 parents. “I think [a recommendation is] perfectly reasonable, but a mandate goes in the direction of overstepping boundaries.”
Toward the end of March, Adams said he would lift the mask mandate for toddlers in schools and daycare settings on April 4 if the Covid-19 rates stayed low. But the city ultimately kept the mandate in place amid an uptick in cases due to the BA.2 Omicron subvariant.
Then, in early April, a Staten Island judge struck down the mandate on the grounds that the measure was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable,” but an appeals court judge later ruled the mandate could stay in place.
The following month, the city scrapped the mask mandate for toddlers in outdoor spaces.
When asked last week about whether he’d remove the mandate for toddlers, the mayor did not provide a specific time frame for dropping the mandate. At the time, he wanted to remove the masks “as quickly as possible” and said he and his team of health experts were continuing to assess the data.
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( Information from politico.com was used in this report. To Read More, click here )