NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York state school mask mandate will be lifted later this week.
"My friends, the day has come," said Governor Kathy Hochul, citing recent CDC guidance which classified much of the state as "low risk" for coronavirus infection.
Hochul announced the mandate will lift Wednesday, March 2 with some guidance for counties that have a higher positivity rate.
"We will lift the statewide requirement based on all the all the data," Hochul said. "However, there are some counties that have higher rate of transmission. We will allow them to determine what is best for their county."
She added that parents will have the choice to continue to send their children to school with masks and urged people to not bully those who still chose to wear them.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams released a statement on Sunday, saying in part:
"I want to thank the millions of New Yorkers who have gotten vaccinated to help stop the spread. New Yorkers stepped up and helped us save lives by reaching unprecedented levels of vaccination. I also want to thank Governor Hochul for her partnership in the fight against COVID-19 and for making clear that parents should be part of this conversation. Additionally, New York City's numbers continue to go down day after day, so, as long as COVID indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week, on Monday, March 7 we will also lift Key2NYC requirements. This will give business owners the time to adapt and will allow us to ensure we are making the best public health decisions for the people of New York."
Hochul also said certain indoor settings like adult care facilities, nursing homes, correctional facilities homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and public transit will still have masking guidance.
This announcement moves the original timetable up about a week. Hochul pointed to the CDC guidance and current metrics for making the decision sooner.
More than a million New York City school children will return to class on Monday after a week off. Mayor Adams said at the end of the week, they will evaluate the numbers and make a final announcement about masks on Friday.
"If we see no unforeseen spikes and our numbers continue to show a low level of risk, New York City will remove the indoor mask mandate for public school children, effective next Monday, March 7. Our schools have been among the safest places for our children since the beginning of the pandemic, and we will continue to make the proper public health decisions to keep our kids safe, including making masks available for any child or school staff member who wishes to continue wearing them," said Adams.
Adams then said that all other vaccine mandates in New York City will remain in place at this time, 'as they are and have been vital to protecting New Yorkers.'
In addition, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York announced that in light of the announcement made by Governor Hochul, they are no longer legally obligated by New York State to mandate mask wearing in school as of Wednesday March 2, and that effective March 2, the wearing of a mask by an adult or children in all Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New York will be recommended but not required.
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