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New York schools conflicted over mask mandate battle

An elementary student waits to get checked in to school in New York City on Dec. 7. Associated Press/Photo by Mark Lennihan

New York schools conflicted over mask mandate battle

State Supreme Court Judge Thomas Rademaker ruled Tuesday that the Department of Health and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul exceeded their authority by reimplementing an indoor mask mandate last month. But the State Education Department said its own mask mandate predates the governor’s and is not subject to the court’s ruling. On Tuesday, school districts were divided: some superintendents kept the requirement in place, while others made masks optional. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has promised the city will not return to online learning, said city schools must still require face coverings of students and staff.

What happens next? The attorney general’s office immediately filed an intent to appeal the ruling, and Hochul said the mandate was an essential public health measure. Rademaker said in his ruling that the law was “enacted unlawfully,” making it unenforceable. He said the responsibility is on the state legislature to implement mandates, not the governor. COVID-19 infections in the state are on the decline in New York, and hospitalizations have dropped by 17 percent statewide in the past week.

Dig deeper: Read Lauren Dunn’s report in Schooled about school principal burnout during the pandemic.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Washington, D.C.



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