NY plans to relax school mask mandate

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Zucker explained that the state will align its camp and school mask guidance since “many camps take place on school grounds, both serve school-age children and the end of the school year/start of the camp season both occur in June.” 

“As we continue to work to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and balance reopening with safety, New York state strives for consistency across and between settings with similar risk levels and populations,” he wrote. 

The new guidance would be a significant change, especially for schools. While schools could continue to require masks, it would no longer be a state mandate. There have been calls for the requirement to end because schoolchildren have needed to wear masks throughout the school day except when eating. That means they could go hours without being able to remove their mask. 

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Andy Pallotta, president of New York State United Teachers, said the state’s announcement is “whiplash-inducing news.”

“Short of any additional guidance from the state or the CDC before Monday, we implore school districts to closely evaluate local conditions and connect with their educators and parents to decide the best course of action for protecting their school community,” he said. 

New York’s improving COVID-19 numbers allow for the removal of many restrictions that have been in place for months. The state Department of Health reported on Friday that the 7-day average positivity rate was 0.56%, the lowest since New York began tracking virus-related data. 

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