NYC Mayor Eric Adams lifting mask mandate for kids under 5


Mask-wearing will soon be optional for New York City toddlers in schools and day care facilities, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday — about two weeks before the last scheduled day of classes.

The controversial face-covering mandate for youngsters ages 2 to 4 in public schools and other city-run settings will be lifted beginning Monday, June 13, he revealed in a press release.

The last day of class in city Department of Education schools is set for June 27.

“I have always said that the science will guide us out of the pandemic, and because we have followed the data, which shows that cases are steadily falling, we’ve beaten back the latest COVID-19 surge,” Adams said in a prepared statement.

The mayor had initially announced the impending end to the policy two months ago. On Thursday, he said City Hall continues to “strongly” recommend that “New Yorkers of all ages continue to wear masks indoors.”

The city will keep providing masks at DOE schools for those who want to wear them, according to the press release.

Mayor Eric Adams announced he is lifting the mask mandate for New York City tots.
Robert Miller

“I’m with New York City parents and New Yorkers can trust this administration to continue to make the proper public health decisions to keep our kids safe,” he said.

The lifting of the mask requirement for children under five — who are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine — comes more than three months after Adams lifted the rule for older students, who can get their shots.

Parents of younger kids had been calling on Hizzoner for months to do away with the mask requirement for their children.

Adams had promised in late March that the rules for the Big Apple’s youngest students and day care attendees would be removed starting April 4 — but backtracked on the move soon after amid an uptick in coronavirus cases.

As of Monday, New York City’s seven-day overall COVID-19 positivity rate average was 7.56%, a decline from the more than 9% peak in mid-May — but up significantly from the below 3% positivity rates reported in April, health department data shows.

The news release on Thursday did not say whether the mask rule would be re-instituted if cases start to spike again, as previous announcements on axing COVID-19-related restrictions have.

The decision—made more than three months after New Jersey’s governor removed the mask mandate for students of all ages— drew praise from Big Apple teachers and parents, while also leaving some wondering why it took so long for Adams to do away with the restriction.

“I’m thrilled masks are off but can’t forget the damage they’ve done for two years,” said Tamara Bedrosian, an Upper West Side mom who said her four-year-old son struggled to learn phonics with his face covered .

“As a mom, I’ve never felt so disappointed in the city that didn’t allow me to make health decisions for my own son.”

Daycare kids wearing masks
Mask-wearing for children under 5 will be optional at day cares and schools starting June 13.
PA

Daniela Jampel, an outspoken advocate for lifting the mask mandate, told The Post she was “overjoyed” toddlers would get the same “freedom of choice” as other New Yorkers to not wear masks.

“Toddlers were masked for far too long in this city, and today’s announcement is a step in the direction of restoring normalcy to our youngest residents,” said Jampel, a former city Law Department staffer and mother of a 4-year-old who in April crashed an Adams press conference in City Hall to demand he lift the rule.

Chloe Pashman, an education director of a preschool in The Bronx, told The Post the lack of a mask requirement will give young pupils the “opportunity to experience school fully and socialize, and communicate with their friends and teachers.”

“There are some children, they don’t know what their teacher looks like, and their friends’ faces,” Pashman said. “We’ve been very torn between what to do, how to do what’s best for children, and also follow what we have to. This will give us the freedom that we need.

“We still honor parent choice — if a parent wants their child to wear a mask, they have that choice,” she explained. “It might be the right thing for some children and families, but it’s not the right thing for all.”

Adams said back in April that he wanted to lift the mask mandate for tots “within a week or so,” as parents staged protests and demanded to meet with the mayor and the city health commissioner. But Adams didn’t follow through that time frame.

A month later, City Hall announced masks would no longer be required in outdoor school areas like playgrounds — but maintained the mandate for indoor settings.

In a front-page Post story last week, fed-up parents ripped Adams for still declining tonix the mandate, with one father labeling the mayor not yet pulling the trigger “absurdity.”

In mid-May, the city health department determined that the risk of the spread of COVID-19 was “high” as cases climbed but hospitalizations stayed low, but Adams opted not to bring back an indoor-setting mask mandate as the color-coded alert level guidelines advised.

The announcement on Thursday did not contain any changes to policies regarding how to handle positive COVID-19 cases among the age group, and it appears entire classrooms will still shut down if a young pupil contracts the virus.

As COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations have plummeted in recent months, New York city and state elected officials have terminated many pandemic-induced regulations, including the indoor venue vaccine passport program and the state’s office mask mandate.

But City Hall’s vaccine mandates for both municipal and private-sector workers remain in place, as does New York state’s mask requirement for public transit.

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