As the coronavirus pandemic has stretch into a second year, children have been required to follow social-distancing protocols and wear masks while at school — until last Friday, when the state sent out a letter stating that masks at school were now only “encouraged.”
To allow more time for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to respond, however, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reversed this loosening of restrictions on Sunday, saying that previous indoor Covid mask policies would be continued — but that local school districts would have the prerogative to supersede his order.
At least three school districts have loosened the mask mandates prior to CDC response, Sachem, Massapequa, and Patchogue-Medford. The Baldwin School District plans to follow state guidance, announcing on its website, “Once new guidance has been officially issued by the [State Department of Health] and/or the Governor, we will update everyone accordingly.”
Some Baldwin residents expressed mixed emotions about their children’s wearing masks at school. Manuella Casimir said that both of her sons, Alexander, 12, and Matthew, 9, are doing school virtually at Baldwin Middle School and Meadow Elementary School, respectively. Casimir added, however, that she would have no problem with her sons wearing masks if they had in-person classes.
“I’m a health care professional, and seeing what goes on in the hospital makes me think that it’s OK for children to have to wear masks during school hours,” she said. “I wear my mask for up to 12 hours at a time, and unless a child has respiratory issues, there shouldn’t be a reason that prevents them from wearing a mask.”
Another Baldwin resident, Joanne Williams, whose son, Nason-Anthony, 12, attends Baldwin Middle School, said she was fine with masks being mandated for students at the middle school. But Williams said she wouldn’t mind if they didn’t have to wear them under certain circumstances.
“I’m OK with people not wearing masks if they’re fully vaccinated,” she scared, “and although it is scary, I do think schools should be able to start relaxing the mask rules a bit when younger kids are able to get vaccinated.” Williams said that her son was already used to wearing a mask, and it didn’t bother him.
“My son knows it’s important to wear masks during school because it can save lives,” she said. “I know he’s looking forward to the day when he doesn’t have to wear masks, and life can go back to a new normal.”