Masks now optional for youngest students in NYC schools, day care centers

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Starting Monday, young children get a break from masking in New York City schools and day care centers.

Face masks are now optional for children ages 2-4.

For Wilmara Pierce, the mother of two young boys, one of them turning 4, this is exactly what she's wanted to hear.

"Parents should have the right to choose what's going to be good for the kids," she said. "For us adults, wearing masks for a long period of time is difficult. For little ones, they don't understand."

City officials say COVID cases have dropped by 26% in the past three weeks.

They further believe New York is over the peak of this past wave.

That's a big reason for the mask mandate for Pre-K and day care centers now becoming optional.

Jovan Benjamin says his 4-year-old son Juelz will still be masking up in school.

"COVID is still out there," he said. "You never know whose child is sick. You don't know what's going on with somebody else's household."

As masks become optional for the youngest New Yorkers, the White House is outlining the early stages of the distribution plan for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children under 5.

Officials say the shots could be available by June 21.

As some parents wait for the vaccine to roll out, Mayor Eric Adams is strongly recommending that New Yorkers continue to wear masks indoors.

He further says that masks will continue to be available for students or staff in schools if they choose to wear them.

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