NY Gov. Hochul suddenly ends indoor mask edict, but decides to EXTEND mandate for schools

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that children across the state will have to continue to mask up in schools past the February 21 expiration date of the existing mandate.

Even as several of her Democratic counterparts in other states have begun lifting COVID restrictions in schools, Hochul spoke on a call with school superintendents who confirmed that the mask mandate will be extended in schools through the scheduled winter break which begins Feb. 21.

Hochul is reportedly going to meet again with school officials after that time to “re-evaluate” the mandate and whether or not to lift it.

(Video: WABC)

Despite school mask mandates being eased in neighboring Connecticut and New Jersey, children in the Empire State will have to continue to wear the face coverings until further notice from the governor. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reportedly put in place a plan to ease restrictions in his state, with mandates set to expire on March 7.

“The circumstances are very positive, very encouraging. She’s optimistic about the trends. But you know, we were all thrown off guard off balanced by the omicron surge, something that we did not foresee,” Robert Lowry, Deputy Director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, told WABC. “We said, provide people with indicators that they could look at and say, you know, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

During a briefing last week, Hochul was pressed again for when she would order an end to the school mask mandates.

“I don’t just look at the numbers,” she said, according to WHEC. “I assess them intently, trends, as well as our vaccination rates in areas, as well as hospitalizations but before any decision is made, I’m going to continue having conversations with the heads of hospitals and continue our conversations with school superintendents that we’ve been having.”

The updated news of school mask orders comes amid reports that Hochul will announce on Wednesday the end of the indoor mask mandate in the state. But the plan to keep young children in masks for weeks ahead set off another frustrated wave of backlash.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who represents New York’s 1st Congressional District, called out what he labeled “child abuse” in a tweet on Tuesday.

“New York will be the last state to drop the school mask mandate because @GovKathyHochul is clueless,” GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino tweeted. “It is unforgivable what she has done to children. Never forget it. Help me defeat her so she can never do it again.”

Many took to Twitter to lambaste the governor’s handling of masking school children.


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