NY school mask mandate will remain in place for now as officials seek more guidance

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York's mask requirement for public schools will continue unchanged Monday, as the state awaits further guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state had sent a letter to the director of the CDC last week informing him that as early as Monday it would allow school districts to waive the mask mandate unless the agency advised it otherwise.

On Sunday, the Department of Education sent a letter to school administrators informing them that while they have not heard back from the CDC, mask requirements will remain to give the agency more time to respond.

In the letter, state health leaders had told the CDC that mask use in schools will be strongly encouraged but no longer required.

New York City on Friday said they would maintain the mask mandate.

Earlier Sunday, educators and officials expressed concerns over the announced change.

"If a case of COVID-19 comes into a classroom and children are unmasked, you're going to be talking about again large-scale contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine," Superintendent of White Plains Public Schools, Joseph L. Ricca, said. "Many parents, of course, were already tentative about sending their children back to school."

Teachers' unions urged schools to connect with educators and parents to make the best decision on masks for their school communities.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran released a statement Sunday saying the state messaging was creating confusion for school leaders and parents.

"We need clarification immediately. This decision must be put in the hands of the educators and parents who know their children and particular circumstances best," the statement read in part.

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