New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced a universal mask requirement for all schools upon her first day in office.
Hochul on Tuesday announced her decision to direct the Department of Health to institute a universal masking mandate for New York schools.
“As Governor, my priorities are now the priorities of the people of New York – and right now that means fighting the Delta variant,” she said in a statement, identifying her priority as “getting children back to school and protecting the environment so they can learn safely.”
“I am immediately directing the Department of Health to institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools, and we are launching a Back to School COVID-19 testing program to make testing for students and staff widely available and convenient,” she continued.
“We are also working to require vaccinations for all school personnel with an option to test out weekly, and we are going to accomplish all of this by working in partnership with all levels of government,” she added.
Elementary schoolchildren wearing a protective face masks in the classroom. Education during epidemic. – stock photo
Per the governor’s office:
To help ensure testing is available to students as they return to school, Governor Hochul is using $335 million in federal funds to launch a new COVID-19 Testing in Schools Program in partnership with local health departments and BOCES in New York State outside of New York City. In addition, New York City has received $225 million directly to initiate a COVID-19 Testing in Schools Program there, for a total of $585 million in federal funding in New York State to support these programs.AdvertisementAdvertisement
The governor’s office also touted that the state “has available more than 4.3 million child-sized clothed face masks, about 10 million adult-sized clothed face masks and almost 55 million non-surgical face masks to provide to students and teachers in schools across the state.”
Notably, the governor’s office made no mention of recent studies indicating that cloth and surgical masks do little to block exhaled aerosols, as outlined in a recent University of Waterloo study:
“The results show that a standard surgical and three-ply cloth masks, which see current widespread use, filter at apparent efficiencies of only 12.4% and 9.8%, respectively,” the study concluded, noting that KN95 and N95 masks were far more effective at filtering out aerosols.
“Apparent efficiencies of 46.3% and 60.2% are found for KN95 and R95 masks, respectively, which are still notably lower than the verified 95% rated ideal efficiencies,” researchers continued in the data published last month prior to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reversing course, advising fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks if they are in high-risk areas.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker praised the mask mandate as a necessary part of the state’s “layered prevention strategies.”
“While a simple measure of prevention, requiring masks now is crucial for protecting the health of our children and ensuring we can get our students back in their schools this fall,” he claimed.