There has been a lot of focus on the state’s mask mandate for indoor public spaces. Most of that attention has been on businesses and schools.
While one of those is expected to see the mask mandate expire this week- the other will most-definitely not.
Governor Kathy Hochul signaled on Tuesday that the mask mandate in schools would be extended through February break. Then, it would be reevaluated.
School districts throughout Upstate New York have been calling for more local control on when to end mask mandates. But some districts, as well as parents, are comfortable with masking.
Especially given vaccination rates among children.
Experts say that COVID mitigation efforts, like indoor masking, social distancing, or putting limitations on certain types of events are becoming less-accepted by the public at-large.
“What we are hoping is to get a strategy, a set of metrics, whatever the state can offer us to move to post-pandemic learning environment,” Sherry Johnson, Monroe County School Boards Association Executive Director told 13WHAM. In Livingston County, superintendents are hoping for similar measures.
“We are ready for moving into this next phase perhaps as we transition from pandemic to endemic so we are ready to go, provide choice for our family,” added Livonia Central School District Superintendent Matt Cole.
Officials in Livingston County added their support to school officials’. “The County’s message of support to our local school districts is clear. Let’s return to some semblance of normalcy and home rule,” Chairman of the Board David L. LeFeber said. “The state is behind on this issue and needs to turn decision-making and control over to the school districts. Just this week, a handful of additional states just said enough with K-12 masks, and we encourage New York State to follow suit. The positive and successful partnership between the Livingston County Department of Health and our school districts is proof that public health policy can be suitably handled at the local level.”
Some parents who want to see the mask mandates end simply want parental choice to be incorporated into the decision.
“I hope the school makes a good choice. If your child is more comfortable with wearing a mask, they can wear a mask, but for those of us who want a choice, and want to unmask our kids, then let us unmask our kids,” Caroline Gerstner told 13WHAM.
Cameron Jameson, a student in the Pittsford district who was interviewed by 13WHAM, said she and other students are impacted by the mask mandate. “I can’t see my teachers’ faces. I don’t know if they are angry or mad at me and I can’t see my friends smile at me or anything really. And teachers can’t see if I’m frustrated or angry at something,” she said.
At this point, the state’s mask mandate ends in schools on February 21. That coincides with winter break. When students come back- they may return without masks, if Governor Hochul gives approval. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still suggests masks for students at school.