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State reverses requirement for young children to wear masks at child care facilities

New York State is reversing its guidance requiring kids who are 2-5 years old to wear masks in child care facilities.

Getting toddlers to keep a mask on is difficult, parents argued, which seemed to prompt the state to revisit its policy.

Officials were met with significant backlash on the topic.

“We thank the providers who have worked so hard since the start of the pandemic to remain open to serve the families of those who could not stay home and we recognize their valiant efforts in serving working families who need quality, reliable and safe child care,” the state Office of Children and Family Services and Department of Health said in a joint-statement.

“Both agencies understand how difficult it is to require the youngest children to wear masks, and have jointly agreed to revise guidance allowing child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic by encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks, effective immediately,” they added. “The safety of the children in child care programs is of paramount importance. As more families are returning to work, New York State is investing federal funds in stabilizing the industry and expanding child care programs throughout the state, especially in underserved areas. We strongly encourage any remaining child care staff who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to prevent the spread of COVID.”

The new guidance says “Young children/campers (i.e., those that are not yet in kindergarten) do not need to wear face coverings when they are in child care or day camp program facility or area.