After weeks of pushbacks and protests outside City Hall as recently as Sunday, Mayor Adams finally announced that the toddler mask mandate would end.
“Today we are announcing that, if the numbers continue to show a low level of risk – let me repeat it – if the numbers continue to show a low level of risk, masks will be optional for children aged 2 to Four years. students in school and day care centers,” Adams said at a news conference Tuesday.
“We are going to start this on April 4and,” he added.
Two weeks ago, the mayor announced that public school children from kindergarten to grade eight would no longer have to wear masks and that Covid positivity rates in schools remained low.
“It’s important to parents, it’s important to students, and let me tell you something, no matter what decisions you make about it, you’re going to have loud people on both sides of the conversation and so we can’t trust the noise, we have to trust the science and we have to trust the safety of our children,” Adams continued Tuesday.
He said that for every call he gets asking to lift the toddler mandate, he would get another asking him not to. Adams has been approached in public places, including on St. Patrick’s Day, by parents questioning his mask mandates for younger students.
“We continue our serious moment of peeling the masks off the faces of our people as we continue the process of returning our city to a level of normalcy which I will do, in a very safe and very strategic way. , so that we can run the city without going back to when Covid controlled our lives,” he said at the press conference, adding that the city is currently in a “low risk environment”. for Covid.
“I can’t shut down my city again,” Adams added, saying there should be “zero tolerance” for child hospitalizations. In a statement released by the mayor’s office, he said masks would continue to be available for any child or staff member who still chooses to wear one.
Adams added that regular calls assessing the situation in schools are taking place between his office, the city’s new health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, and the Department of Education.
Vasan said cases were increasing slightly but hospitals had sufficient capacity and admissions remained low.
“Less risk means more choice for New Yorkers about mandatory and optional precautions,” Vasan said at the press conference. “That’s why, if things remain as they are for the next two weeks, children aged 2 to 4 will have the option to remove their masks in schools and daycare centers in early April.”
“If we see the risk levels increasing, we might reevaluate,” Vasan added. “However, at this time, we feel comfortable saying that if the numbers hold, masks may become optional for some of our youngest New Yorkers.”
Vasan continued, “As a parent, I’ve experienced how personal the issue of masks can be, in playgrounds, in schools, and in my own neighborhood…And certainly on my social media.”
“Let’s be respectful of the choices that families make. Let’s be kind to each other when it comes to managing our own risks. You don’t know what life circumstances a person might factor into their choice to mask up.
Daniela Jampel, one of the organizers of the Mask Choice for Toddlers protest, originally from Queens but who moved to Washington Heights, told the Chronicle that parents are ‘pleased with mayor’s decision to follow science, acknowledge risk extremely weak that Covid poses for children aged 2 to 4 and allows them to attend their daycare centers and preschools without their masks.
“While we believe this decision is long overdue and need not wait until April 4, allowing our low-risk toddlers, many of whom have never been to school without a mask , the same normalcy enjoyed by the rest of New York City, is a step in the right direction,” Jampel said in a text message.