A few weeks ago, the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, had announced the removal of the mask mandate for public schools in New York City starting March 7th. He has announced that students in K-12 schools will no longer have to keep the masks on during school instruction or after-school activities. However, students under the age of 4 (in 3K or LYFE) will have to keep their masks up. People are not required to show vaccination proof to visit restaurants, gyms and venues as well. Adams announced that masks are only required on public transit and Broadway theaters.
“We want to see the faces of our children, we want to see their smiles,” said Mayor Adams.
As COVID cases have dropped in New York City after the sudden surge in cases from the Omicron-variant, health experts are concerned that Mayor Adams may be “moving too quickly” to drop COVID restrictions and mandates. The infection rate of COVID remains high as the removal of mandates makes students and employees more vulnerable.
According to the New York Times, The city's public advocate Jumaane Williams and state senator Liz Krueger have shown concern about the city’s mask mandate and vaccination policy. Although COVID cases and hospitalizations have decreased since January of 2022, with the mask mandate and vaccination policy, the fear of being vulnerable to infection is still at risk. To this concern, Mayor Adams has said that ''he would reinstate restrictions” if cases were to increase again. He had stated that he would restore the restrictions and change the policy as it was before and during the pandemic if cases and hospitalizations did increase.
The new mask mandate and vaccination policy have caused controversies among New Yorkers, however, the people still have the choice of wearing their masks. The choice of removing the mask mandate in New York City was a response to the vocal anti-maskers. Other states’ removal of the mask mandate also encouraged Mayor Eric Adams to remove the mandate in New York City as well. Mayor Adams had decided that the best compromise is to leave it up to personal choice from here on out.
TYWLS Reactions to the New Mask Policy
Given the choice to wear a mask, everyone had their own reasons for either keeping the mask on or off. Around TYWLS, teachers and students have been asked about their thoughts on the mask mandate and, if comfortable, any decisions they made towards the mandate.
Many students had similar opinions of why they chose to keep their masks on. They claimed that due to COVID safety, they had chosen to keep their masks on. Some students that have decided to remain masked up due to ongoing health concerns are Fahmida (11th grade), River (11th grade), Subaita (10th grade), and many others.
Teacher Michelle B. has chosen to take her mask off and has claimed that naturally, “it wasn’t second nature” for her to always remember to wear a mask. Given the choice, now forgetting to wear a mask has become something she doesn't have to worry about as much anymore.
One teacher who expressed comfort in taking her mask off after the lifting of the mask mandate is Xenia. “Now that I have taken all the proper measures to be safe, I feel comfortable with the mandate and without wearing a mask,” she said
Some students stated that having the choice of wearing the mask or not was very helpful as several noted having trouble breathing as they go up the stairs and just taking that break midway up the stairs is a great way to calm down and be with ease as they go about to their next class.
Mask up or mask down. The choice is yours.
“Adams Ends Pandemic Mandates in New York City amid Concern He Is Rushing.” The New York Times, 2022,
Gartland, Michael, and Chris Sommerfeldt. “Mayor Adams Scraps NYC’s Indoor Vaccine Mandate, School Mask Rules.”
Hicks, Nolan, et al. “Mayor Adams Ends School Mask Mandates — except for Kids under Five.” New York Post, New York
Post, 4 Mar. 2022, nypost.com/2022/03/04/mayor-adams-expected-to-announce-end-of-nyc-vax-passports/amp/. Accessed 18 Apr. 2022.