The mask mandate for New York schools is set to expire next month and Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul is reportedly weighing options to reinstate the safety measure, since she expects that many school districts won't require masks once they're no longer mandated by the state.
The statewide school mask mandate is set to expire on February 21.
"When a state mandate lapses, I expect all school districts will say, 'We don't have to do this anymore," Governor Hochul said. "When the state requirements lapse, everybody cannot follow them any longer."
The city Department of Education (DOE) currently states that regardless of vaccination status, students and staff are required to wear masks on all school property; including both indoors and outdoors.
Hochul said last Friday that she will assess the state's Covid numbers and will extend the mandate if needed.
Hochul also explained that the state threw out the mask mandate in schools but it was reimplemented when the omicron variant began to surge across the US.
"I'd be negligent if I said now, on a certain date, something's going to happen," Hochul said. "I think people respect that — those who are not just playing politics and trying to get headlines — will understand that and I'm going to reserve that right. Could it be? Yes. May it not be? Yes. I don't know right now. And I don't expect to know but I'm watching the numbers. The trend is great. The trend is great. And if people get their kids vaccinated, I won't worry so much about their kids either."
The state of New York has some of the strictest Covid restrictions in the entire country while also being one of the state's with the highest numbers of Covid cases.
On Monday, the New York State Supreme Court struck down Hochul's statewide mask mandate. Judge Thomas Rademaker said that the issuance of a mask mandate without the state legislature actually voting on the measure is beyond the authority of either the governor or the state health commissioner.