The mask mandate in New York state schools has been lifted and it is up to local districts to make their own decisions.
New York state Governor Kathy Hochul has made it optional for most New York schools, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analysis of several key COVID-19 data trends and consulting with health and education experts, as well as parents, teachers and school administrators.
“Because New Yorkers have stepped up, we can confidently remove the statewide mask requirement in our schools,” Governor Hochul said.
“This is a huge step forward for our kids and communities and I am grateful to the students, educators and parents for their dedication to keeping us all safe—we’ve reached this milestone because of your hard work.”
Hochul said with more New Yorkers getting vaccinated, and the steady decline over the past several weeks in cases and hospitalizations, that we are now entering a new phase of the pandemic.
The Rochester City School District has also followed suit and transitioned to optional masking in schools and buildings as of March 2, 2022.
“The use of masks will become the individual choice of families and staff members. It is important that we respect each other’s decisions and continue to provide a safe, welcoming environment for all our students and staff.,” said Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small.
“We would not be here without your efforts to help stop the spread of COVID. Please be advised that masks will be required in certain situations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Myers-Small said she recognizes that individuals will react differently to this news, as this is a sensitive topic for many. She said ending the mask mandate does not change our daily practices related to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our students and staff.
RCSD will continue the following practices, already in place:
- Continue to supply high-quality masks for those who want them.
- Provide COVID-19 rapid test kits to anyone who requests them.
- Continue to offer families the option for students to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing at their schools.
- Continue to share the number of COVID-19 cases per school on the website.
County Executive Adam Bello and Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza endorsed the Governor’s decision and indicated that masking should be a family’s choice. Bello and Mendoza said Hochul’s decision is appropriate, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that shows most of New York State — and Monroe County — are no longer considered to have a high transmission rate of COVID.
“Lifting of the mask requirement allows school districts to go mask-optional and let parents decide if their children should still mask. This is a smart and prudent option. We urge parents that feel the need for continued masking of their children to do so — and for those that opt not to mask to respect everyone’s personal decision,” according to a joint statement.
Last week, Monroe County distributed 250,000 high quality adult and pediatric masks to school districts countywide. The county will continue to distribute rapid home test kits free to the public and plans to announce an updated distribution plan soon.
Myers-Small said getting vaccinated is also still an important step in helping to keep everyone safe. The District is partnering with Monroe County again to host three vaccination clinics for children ages 5 – 17.
For further information, please visit www.rcsdk12.org/clinics, including links to schedule an appointment.
Also, visit https://www.monroecounty.gov/health-COVID-19 for Monroe County COVID-19 resources.