While the governor cannot mandate mask wearing across the state's public schools, the state Health Department can issue guidance strongly recommending that school districts require face coverings.
Hochul stressed that she plans to work with school district officials as well as parents and teachers on the issue of mask requirements.
The Buffalo Democrat, who has served as Erie County clerk and served one term in Congress before winning election as lieutenant governor in 2014, will become the first woman to be New York's governor when Cuomo's resignation becomes official on Aug. 24.
During an interview on Thursday, Hochul deflected questions about whether the state Assembly should proceed with impeachment proceedings despite Cuomo's impending exit, saying "I don't believe it's my position to weigh in on that situation."
She addressed the public for the first time Wednesday about the Attorney General's explosive report on Governor Cuomo's alleged sexual misconduct.
"No one that has been named as doing something unethical in the report will remain in my administration," she said. "I am going to stand right here, at the end of my term, whenever it ends. No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment."
In Wednesday's address, Hochul also promised that she will "fight like hell" for New Yorkers and continue many of the popular policies of the Cuomo administration.
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But she made clear her leadership style will be very different.
"Many people have supported the policies of the Cuomo administration. There is a strong legacy of accomplishment," she said. "Those policies will continue and be enhanced. But with respect to the particular environment and the reputation of the current administration, I think it is pretty clear, and it is no secret, that we have not been close and I have not been associated with that."
As if to underscore her point, Hochul was photographed carrying a bag into the Capitol emblazoned with three statements: Kindness is Cool. Intelligence is Irresistible. Integrity is Everything.
Regarding Cuomo, some are calling for impeachment proceedings against him to continue.
On Monday the Assembly Judiciary Committee is expected to decide whether it will move forward with impeachment - and Hochul says she will not advise the legislature on how to proceed.
The latest Marist poll shows Cuomo will leave office with a 38% approval rating.
Last summer, at the height of the pandemic, he had a 66% approval rating.
RELATED | Questions linger for Andrew Cuomo's future after governor resigns amid scandals
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