NEW YORK (WWTI) — An announcement made late Monday night may change mask mandates in New York State, however, possibly not for schools.
On January 24, New York State Supreme Court Judge Thomas Rademaker of Nassau County wrote that the governor does not have the authority to impose the mandate since emergency powers are no longer in place. Judge Rademaker claimed the statewide mask mandate was unconstitutional.
State officials filed an appeal to the court’s ruling Tuesday. A temporary stay was issued hours later.
This mask mandate was first enacted in December 2021 by New York State Governor Hochul and required face coverings in schools and other public places.
During a public virtual school board meeting Tuesday, Pittsford Schools Superintendent Michael Pero asked everyone for patience as they work through this. “The district is required to comply with the direction and corresponding directive and will continue to require all students, staff, and others on school property to wear masks,” he said.
Pero says the decision Monday night, caused a lot of emotions. “I received some emails that parents were sending students to school unmasked. Some threatened lawsuits, and more messages asking to keep the mandate in place,” he said.
Some parents Tuesday, speaking out on the issue. “Now would be the right time to update the mask policy to one of choice,” said Vicky — attending the meeting virtually.
“Masking is not good for their social well-being,” said a group of parents at the Pittsford Pub, also attending the meeting virtually.
In a statement from Bruce Blakeman, the County Executive in Nassau County, he says he opposes the mandate but says mask decisions should be made by families and school boards — not politicians in Albany.
In Fairport Tuesday, the school board said, for now, they’re sticking with guidance from local experts and the health department. “I don’t think anyone loves wearing masks, the variant definitely changed things up a bit,” said Erica Belos-Pacer, Fairport Central School District.
Following the ruling by the Supreme Court, local schools confirmed that their mask mandates remained unchanged following guidance from the New York State Education Department.
NYSED confirmed the following in a statement released to New York school districts on Monday night:
“It is SED’s understanding that the Department of Health will appeal the Nassau County Supreme Court decision, which will result in an automatic stay that will unambiguously restore the mask rule until such time as an appellate court issues a further ruling. Therefore, schools must continue to follow the mask rule.”
South Jefferson Central School District Superintendent Scott Slater said that the “[District will continue to monitor the situation and share out details once more information is known.”
“As we’ve experienced since the onset of the pandemic, and most recently with the guidance on contact tracing and quarantines, this is all new and shifting by the moment. Official statements are expected from local and state health departments providing increased clarification,” Slater added in a district message.
Governor Hochul also released the following statement in response to the NYS Supreme Court ruling.
“My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.”
Although no full reversal has been made to the mask mandate, the New York Supreme Court is requesting this matter to be sent to the State Legislature.