NYC school mask term ends Monday for K-12 – NBC New York
What there is to know
- Starting Monday, children in K-12 schools operated by the NYC Department of Education no longer have to wear masks indoors; mandate remains in effect for classrooms serving children under 5
- Also effective next week: The Key2NYC program requiring businesses to verify the status of vaccines for customers will end. The rule requiring the vaccination of employees remains in force, however.
- When asked if he could change New York’s transit mask rules if the CDC decides to change its guidance on that front when it revisits the issue on March 18, Mayor Eric Adams said he would was not yet ready to do so.
Come Monday, hundreds of thousands of public school students in the nation’s largest district and their educators can ditch face masks indoors, Mayor Eric Adams said Friday as he announced the impending end of the one of the most deeply impacting and longstanding mandates of the COVID pandemic.
Businesses in the five boroughs also won’t have to check vaccination cards at the door starting next week, although they can continue to do so if they wish.
Face masks will still be required for students under age 5 who are eligible for the vaccine, the Democrat announced, affecting some pre-K grades, all 3-K grades and many daycare and children’s programs supervised by the health department.
Parents of children affected by the lifting of the mandate can still send them to school wearing masks if they prefer, and schools will have face coverings on hand for anyone in need. Adams acknowledged that it can take time for some to feel comfortable without a mask in some settings and he says the city fully supports their right to discretion.
But it’s time to lose the rule, the mayor said, citing a school positivity rate of just 0.18% — in addition to a lower average rate than the neighborhood throughout the pandemic — and a drastic drop in virus measures at all levels. .
“We want to see our children’s faces, we want to see their smiles, we want to see how happy they are, we want to see when they are feeling sad so we can be there to comfort them. Masks have stopped us from doing that. for almost two years,” Adams said.
“We are not going to interfere with your discretion and we want New Yorkers to be smart, flexible and able to feel comfortable without any intimidation, without any teasing. If you feel comfortable wearing your mask, feel free to do so,” he said.
Watch the mayor’s full announcement in the player below.
Programs that include a mix of student ages within groups—such as pre-K classrooms that serve 4- and 5-year-olds or after-school programs with mixed ages—will likely need to keep the full mandate in place to consistency. A number of programs sent out email notifications to parents on Thursday night after a city hall official told Gothamist about the mayor’s expected Friday announcement of the policy.
Public schools will continue basic COVID precautions like case monitoring and deep cleaning efforts, along with weekly testing. Nearly 90,000 students and staff are randomly tested each week as part of the city’s COVID safety plan — and more than 20 million rapid tests have been distributed to children to take home.
“We will make the right public health decisions to keep our city safe. We will pivot if we see a reason to change policies. We won’t be afraid to make those adjustments and changes. COVID is changing. It’s changing, it’s changes. We need to be open to doing the same,” Adams said. “And if we see an increase in cases or hospitalizations, we’re going to come back. We’re going to follow the numbers and we’re going to follow the science. It’s imperative that we know this battle is still ongoing and we’re going to continue to do which is fair for families and New Yorkers.”
Adams made his announcement in Times Square on Friday uncoincidentally. The lifting of the mandate in the once empty and shocking crossroads of the world, once again a stronghold for the tourism, entertainment and nightlife industries, serves as a powerful symbol for the city’s ongoing recovery and revitalization.
The mayor will also suspend the city’s “Key2NYC” policy, which currently requires anyone 5 and older to show proof of vaccination in order to enter most public spaces, such as restaurants, bars, gyms. and grocery stores, starting Monday.
Adams, who has expressed the need for the city to return more fully to pre-pandemic habits, had outlined his plans earlier this week after the CDC changed its mask recommendations. The situation has since improved further, with the CDC now saying 90% of the US population no longer needs to wear them indoors, up from more than 70% when the agency made its announcement last week.
New York City’s numbers also improved.
COVID cases are down 43% on a rolling basis over the past week compared to the previous four-week average, while hospitalizations and deaths are both down 71% by the same metric. And the data period for which these rates are falling does not even encompass the meteoric fall of the omicron-fueled wave that hit in late January. Factor in the peak and you’re looking at a nearly 100% drop in cases.
About 77% of the city’s population is fully immunized, although rates lag among eligible children (56% fully immunized, 35% yet to receive a dose). Full immunization rates for children vary widely by neighborhood, ranging from a citywide low of 17% in the east, north and south parts of Williamsburg to Brooklyn to Park to a maximum of 99% in a strip of neighborhoods in Manhattan, as well as Long Island in Queens. City and Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Downtown and Park Slope, among others. See the city’s full dataset for childhood vaccinations by zip code here.
New York schools outside of the five boroughs were allowed to drop mask mandates starting Wednesday when Governor Kathy Hochul lifted her statewide order.
This is the day that many families have been looking forward to for a long time: the day when students will no longer have to wear masks at school. But one Long Island district said more students than not were still wearing masks. Reporting by NBC New York’s Greg Cergol.
The changes announced Monday in New York come into effect the same day New Jersey also lifts its statewide indoor school mask mandate.
Unchanged, however, is the city’s vaccine requirement to operate. All private sector workers in New York must still be fully vaccinated under the ordinance put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio late last year.
Mandates designed and put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 are being withdrawn during a major phase of the pandemic. It has been more than two years since New York City reported its first case on March 1, 2020.