On Sept. 22, Florida's surgeon general instituted a rule that gives parents and legal guardians "sole discretion" over masking in schools. On Nov. 5, a judge sided with the state health department in a legal challenge to rule. On Nov. 18, Gov. DeSantis signed a bill that allows parents to sue school districts that require masks.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said today she will require everyone to wear masks in schools throughout the state.
Hochul, on her first day in the job, said she will direct the state Department of Health to require universal masking in schools for anyone inside the buildings.
“None of us want a rerun of last year’s horrors with Covid-19,” she said.
Hochul said she’s taking steps to prevent that from happening again.
“Priority No. 1 is getting children back to school, and protect the environment so they can learn and everyone is safe,” she said.
Nearly every school district in Central New York is already requiring masks, although Central Square in Oswego County had said its rule requiring masks would change if there is lower transmission in that region.
Schools are not requiring masks to be worn outdoors. Central New York school districts are requiring students, staff and visitors to all wear masks.
Gov. Hochul said the state health department will issue the requirement through regulatory action established by the Public Health and Health Planning Council.
The Syracuse City School District was one of the first locally to announce a mask requirement indoors in its schools.
Medical experts agree that masks work and are effective in helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and the Delta variant.
This information is no longer being updated. The last data update was on May 23, 2022.
MASK MANDATE BAN IN EFFECT
MASK MANDATE BAN BLOCKED, SUSPENDED, OR NOT BEING ENFORCED
MASK REQUIREMENT IN EFFECT
PREVIOUSLY HAD MASK REQUIREMENT
In January 2022, the Missouri attorney general, Eric Schmitt, sued some school districts that required masks, citing a November ruling by a county judge that said local health orders tied to COVID-19 were illegal. (The ruling was interpreted differently by different districts.) The state’s treasurer announced he would also crack down on schools with mask mandates. In mid-March, Schmitt began dropping lawsuits against school districts that no longer required masks. On May 19, 2022 Schmitt announced new lawsuits against several districts that had reinstated mask requirements.
On Feb. 23, 2022, New Hampshire’s governor announced the state was no longer recommending universal indoor masking and therefore schools have to end mask mandates, arguing they violate state education department rules. Soon after, the department advised districts that the mandates “are inconsistent with” their rules. There’s disagreement over whether districts still have the authority to require masks, but at least one district changed its policy in response. A bill that would have banned mask mandates was vetoed by Gov. Sununu in May 2022.
Updated 5/23/2022 | Sources: Local media reports, Education Week reporting | Learn more here
The Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the state Education Department and Onondaga County agree that everyone in schools should be masked in order to prevent spread, regardless of their vaccination status. Upstate University Hospital doctors also urged districts to mandate masks in schools.
In a letter signed by nine pediatricians, infectious disease doctors and public health experts, these experts said masks can protect kids and teachers from the highly transmissible Delta variant that is leading to an increase in hospitalizations.
Without masks, more students could end up quarantined and that’s another reason to have everyone wear face coverings, superintendents say.
Some parents are opposed to masks or want to have a choice. If they didn’t want to wear masks last year, they could stay home and do remote learning. This fall, school districts aren’t offering the remote learning option they did last year, unless a student has a medical letter from their physician. The instruction then would be from BOCES teachers.
Hochul also reiterated that school staff should be required to be vaccinated or undergo Covid-19 testing each week, at least for now. Partnerships with local governments are in the works to make this happen, she said.
She also said the state is launching a “Back to School Covid-19 Testing Program” to make testing for students and staff widely available, and convenient.
Hochul said she will have more school policies to announce later this week.
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