Parents rally to end school mask requirements

Regional News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Parents, elected officials, and other advocates stood outside the Capitol Sunday afternoon holding signs that read “Unmask our Children.”

Under the current state mandate, students are required to wear a mask on the buses, classrooms, hallways with mask breaks in-between. For day camps, campers over the age of two and staff who are not fully vaccinated must wear face coverings except when eating, showering, swimming, or sleeping.

We’re at the very end of the school year, but parents and local officials say it’s getting too hot to have students wear masks in the classrooms during summer school and day camps. Parents at the rally say they want to make the decision whether or not to have their children wear face coverings.

“To me as a parent, I want to have that choice whether to mask them or not mask them. That should be my legal right, I shouldn’t have the state tell me,” says Charissa Mayer, a registered nurse and parent advocate from New Scottland.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released guidance that school districts can allow students to remove their masks outdoors, however, masks still need to be worn in the classrooms. Students can take mask breaks but, parents say that’s not enough. “The rates are down, it’s time to unmask our children, let the parents do their job…it should be the parents’ discretion, not somebody who sits in the governor’s mansion,” says Mayer.

“The rates are down, it’s time to unmask our children. Let the parents do their job. It should be the parent’s discretion, not somebody who sits in the governor’s mansion,” says Assemblymember Chris Tague.

The state mandate was released on June 7, and two days later, Assemblymember Chris Tague introduced legislation that would prevent state agencies from mandating mask requirements for children in schools. Tague says the bill comes as COVID-19 positivity rates remain low throughout the state.

“It’s a pretty simple bill that says let our parents and our school administration make the choices for our children. Not the governor, not the legislature, but the people that mean most to these kids—their parents,” says Tague. The legislation was introduced the day before session came to a close and was not voted on.

NEWS10 reached out to the governor’s office for a comment on Sunday’s rally, and they referred us to the governor’s press conference transcript from June 7, 2021. Part of the transcript from the governor’s office reads: “The CDC thinks that is not advisable. That was posed in the question. We asked them what do you think in the case of New York? Remember the CDC is setting a policy for the entire nation. So you have New York on one end, one of the lowest positivity. And then you have states that have like four or five times our positivity. They have to cover both.”

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