NY schools: Students and staff will be required to wear masks, health department says

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All students, staff and faculty must wear masks while in school buildings in New York state, the state’s health department announced Friday.

A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health released the following statement late Friday: “The Department has filed an emergency regulation requiring all students, faculty and staff of all public and private schools (P-12) in New York State to wear masks inside school buildings. Public and private schools/districts across the State have been notified by the Department.”

The news came three days after newly sworn-in Gov. Kathy Hochul told New Yorkers to expect a school-mask mandate as well as a vaccine requirement statewide.

Hochul said she directed the state Department of Health to implement the universal masking policy for anyone entering school buildings.

The state is also working toward implementing a program requiring the COVID vaccine or weekly testing for all school personnel across New York.

“To accomplish this in New York, we need partnerships with all levels of government and I’m working now on getting this done,” Hochul said Tuesday.

There has yet to be an update on the vaccine-or-test requirement.

New York City has mandated masks in its schools since last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic first ravaged the city.

The city also announced on Tuesday that all public school teachers and other staffers will have to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“New York City schools have a universal mask mandate in place, and all our employees are required to have their first vaccine dose by September 27,” a NYC Department of Education spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “We look forward to partnering with the State on our shared goal of getting all children back into classrooms safely.”

The city previously said teachers, like other city employees, would have to get the shots or get tested weekly for the virus. Tuesday’s announcement marked the first flat-out vaccination mandate for city workers in the nation’s most populous city. There will be no testing option.

The mandate impacts about 148,000 school employees in NYC, where classes are set to begin Sept. 13.

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