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When will masking end in schools? Some officials want masks off soon, others want to wait indefinitely

When will students be able to take the masks off?

Not that soon, according to Governor Kathy Hochul. The news comes as New York City Mayor-Elect Eric Adams says he wants to see kids unmasked at schools as soon as possible. In fact, he’s even pushing for that to take place this year.

Meanwhile, Governor Hochul is skeptical.

“The number one question I seem to get these days from the press and parents is ‘when can we stop having the kids wear masks in schools?’ I want them to stop wearing masks in schools,” she said Tuesday. “The key to doing that is getting them vaccinated.”

Vaccine eligibility only recently opened up to 5 to 11 year olds. Teens have been eligible for weeks.

However, officials agree that getting to a point where masks are not universally worn is a necessary long-term goal.

“I think it’s really important to think about and envision a time that we will have to get to where masks are not universally worn at all times in schools,” Denis Nash, a professor of epidemiology at the CUNY School of Public Health told Spectrum. “And the vaccine is the key strategy for us to get there. I like to think of masks as the new hoodie. I hope that we can continue to rely on them going forward for COVID, the flu and for other respiratory infections.”

The state recently launched a free tuition contest for those who get vaccinated. The state will draw 50 random 5 to 11 year olds who get vaccinated to receive a full-ride scholarship to any SUNY or CUNY school.

All of that said, vaccination remains crucial in ending the pandemic-era regulations, like masking in public schools.