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Could New York’s mask mandate in schools end after February break?

Gov. Kathy Hochul told New York education officials that she would like to reach a point where mask mandates in school are no long necessary, but won’t commit to a firm date.

Hochul held a virtual meeting on Tuesday, February 7 to discuss the state’s mask mandate with representatives from the state’s five largest school districts as well as superintendents, school board officials, and Parent Teacher Association members, according to NY State of Politics.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Hochul didn’t provide specific metrics on how state officials would determine an end date for the mask mandate in schools, but attendees say state officials are keeping a close eye on the February school break.

“Right now, their thinking is they prefer to wait through the February school break and see if circumstances change, if we have an increase in infections of students after that point,” said Robert Lowry, the deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents. “But it was very clear that she said a change in mask requirements is under consideration. And all the communications we’ve had with the governor’s office and the health department, that’s been apparent.”

The meeting comes after New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania announced they will end their mask mandates in schools in the coming weeks.

New York has seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases following the omicron variant surge. Hochul has stated the state’s case load and increasing vaccination rate among children will be factors in determining an end to the mask mandate.