Long Island parents against mask mandates in schools angry at new governor's mandate

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- Parents on Long Island who have been fighting for months to remove mask mandates for children in schools were disappointed Tuesday in new New York Governor Kathy Hochul's announcement that she has directed the Department of Health to require a universal mask mandate in schools this fall.

"There's no data that supports this action whatsoever, zero," said Michael Roessner, of Massapequa, who leads the Facebook group Unmask The Kids NY. "She can not bring me any evidence that putting a painter's mask on a child or a scarf works."

Roessner is infuriated that his 20-year-old fully vaccinated daughter with special needs will have to wear a mask to school.

Roessner's wife said she hopes local school boards defy the governor's mandate. She believes parents should be able to decide whether to send their child to school in a mask.

"Parents no longer have a say in what's happening with their children and that really is scary," Sue Roessner said.

Last week, the Massapequa School Board announced masks would be optional for students in schools. Parents cheered at the news.



Up until Tuesday, the Farmingdale School District and the Kings Park School District also decided to be mask-optional this fall. The Commack School District said students could remove their masks once at their desks.

Those decisions were made after former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said mask regulations would be left up to the individual school districts. Cuomo resigned a short time later.

The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday masks should be required in schools.

"The reason to mask in schools is not necessarily only to protect our adults," Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "But also to protect our children from transmissibility, from one child to another. And then, of course, from children going home to perhaps unvaccinated or immunocompromised or at risk adults who might have waning immunity."

Since June, hundreds of parents on Long Island have been fighting mask mandates in schools with various rallies and protests. It has been the hot button topic at school board meetings throughout August.

A spokesperson for the Farmingdale School District contacted by Eyewitness News following the governor's announcement said the district would not comment on its mask policy.

The Superintendent of the Commack School District told Eyewitness News the District will be updating its mask policy based on the Governor's directive.

Massapequa School District
Statement from Superintendent of Schools Lucille Iconis

In a statement, the Superintendent of the Massapequa School District Lucille Iconis says they are awaiting definitive guidance from Hochul on protocols related to COVID.

"We look forward to working with Governor Kathy Hochul as we start the new school year. We await definitive guidance from the New York State Department of Health regarding protocols related to COVID-19. Until such guidance is provided, we will continue with the protocols that have been endorsed by our Board of Education and shared with our community," Iconis said.

Eyewitness News also contacted the Kings Park School District to get their reaction to the mandate, but have not yet heard back.

ALSO READ | Hochul lays out priorities on COVID vaccines and school masks
EMBED More News Videos

New York's first female governor says she has one big priority: "I want people to believe in their government again."



----------
* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.