NYC lifts school mask mandates, vaccine requirements today

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NYC lifts school mask mandates, vaccine requirements today

It’s time to face each other again!

Big Apple public school kids can finally go to classrooms mask-free on Monday — while protests are planned to get the same right for the very youngest children, who still have to cover up.

For most students in the nation’s largest school district, it will be their first time fully showing their faces in a classroom since early 2020, when many went virtual and then masks were eventually mandated.

“We want to see the faces of our children, we want to see their smiles,” Mayor Eric Adams said Friday of lifting the requirement for K-to-12 kids.

“We want to see how happy they are. We want to see when they are feeling sad so that we can be there to comfort them.”

New York City schools Chancellor David Banks earlier stressed that the decision on whether to wear a mask “will be made by parents and their families.”

“They don’t need a recommendation from me,” Banks said.

United Federation of Teachers chief Mike Mulgrew called Adams’ mask decision “responsible.”

Starting March 7, 2022 children who are five and up will not be required to wear masks in school.
Starting March 7, 2022 children who are five and up will not be required to wear masks in school.
Stephen Yang

“Our doctors agree with the city’s medical experts that this is the right time to safely move from a mask mandate to an optional mask system,” Mulgrew said.

Monday’s option to discard masks in classes comes amid a slew of other mandates being eased, returning the city to the closest to normal it has been since the pandemic started spreading two years ago.

That includes no longer having to show proof of vaccination in order to enter Big Apple restaurants, gyms and indoor venues.

Mayor Eric Adams lifted the mask mandate on March 4, 2022.
Mayor Eric Adams lifted the mask mandate on March 4, 2022.
Stephen Yang

“People need to get outdoors and enjoy our city again,” Adams said, vowing to “reinstate every parade, every festival, every block party” to stop NYC having “become so boring.”

Masks will, however, still be needed on public transportation as well as at Broadway shows.

And — most controversially — they are still required for early-education students aged 4 and under, the only group currently not able to be vaccinated.

Today marks the first time NYC students get to fully show their faces in a classroom since early 2020.
Today marks the first time NYC students get to fully show their faces in a classroom since early 2020.
Stephen Yang

That ruling is expected to bring protests to City Hall Monday morning.

Adams had said he was keeping the already controversial mandate in place because he would “rather people complain against me than . . . losing my babies in our city.”

But data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that just 0.1% to 1.5% of child COVID cases resulted in hospitalization and 0.00% to 0.01% resulted in deaths.

According to Adams, masks will still be required while riding public transit.
According to Adams, masks will still be required while riding public transit.
Kevin C. Downs

“It is a blatant lie that children under 5 have higher hospital rates,” parent activist Daniel Jampel said. “Anyone with a computer and the Internet can go to the CDC Web site and see that hospital rates for adults over 50 are orders of magnitude higher than kids under 5.”

It’s not just the city making major changes, with districts in Yonkers, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Albany among those also stopping mask mandates following Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to lift the statewide requirement, citing a dramatic drop in COVID-19 infections and new federal guidelines.

New Jersey’s statewide school mask mandate has also now ended, and
New York’s neighbors Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont also relaxed school masking rules beginning this week.

Data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that just 0.1% to 1.5% of child COVID cases resulted in hospitalization
Data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that just 0.1% to 1.5% of child COVID cases resulted in hospitalization
Stephen Yang

Even some of those who witnessed the full brutality of COVID-19’s early destruction in the city feel that the time is right.

“My experience was one of tragedy, of depression, of suffering,” said Tim Okamura, who saw refrigerated morgues on his Brooklyn street in March 2020, when he also fell ill.

But “I’m tired of walking into businesses and putting on a mask or forgetting my mask,” he said, noting that the city now had the experience which would hopefully kick in with future surges.

New York City schools Chancellor David Banks earlier stressed that the decision on whether to wear a mask "will be made by parents and their families."
New York City schools Chancellor David Banks earlier stressed that the decision on whether to wear a mask “will be made by parents and their families.”
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

“If something else happens, well, we know the drill. We can always go back.”

With Post wires

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