Metro

De Blasio offers no timetable on lifting NYC school mask mandate

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Big Apple officials on Thursday could not say what it would take to lift the mask requirement in public schools — even as kids ages 5 and up can now get the COVID-19 vaccine.

At his daily press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about whether there was a specific threshold for the city to reach in order to nix masks in the classroom.

“It’s a great question, is that point any time soon? I would say, as a general view, that out of an abundance of caution, I would keep the masks in place, at least in the short term because they’ve really worked, because the kids have adapted to them well, the adults have adapted to them well,” he replied.

“But I would also say, as an everyday person, I look forward to the day when we don’t need them. We just need to make sure we’re absolutely certain that’s the right moment.”

According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, children who are ages 5-11 will be able to a dose of the COVID-19 starting November 4, 2021 while kids ages 12-15 have been eligible since May.
According to Mayor Bill de Blasio, children who are ages 5-11 will be able to get a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine starting November 4, 2021. Kids ages 12-15 have been eligible since May.
KEVIN C DOWNS
Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi has said that removal of COVID-19 precaution could be very bad for schools.
Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi has said that removal of COVID-19 precautions could be very bad for schools.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s top health advisor, conceded City Hall couldn’t yet determine what percentage of students need to be vaccinated in order to make masking up in schools no longer necessary.

“We’re really not at a point right now to say that, at any given percentage of vaccinations, that all of our current mitigation measures could be removed,” said Varma, who joined the mayor’s press conference.

Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, cautioned against removing COVID-19 safeguards too soon.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has not given any official statement about how long mask mandates in schools will remain.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has not given any official statement about how long mask mandates in schools will last.
James Keivom

“Our precautions have worked. We’ve been able to keep schools safe with the layered approach to prevention,” he said at the briefing. “Not just masking, but very importantly, vaccination and bringing to bear testing and distancing and ventilation as well.”

“We have to resist the temptation to throw caution to the wind too quickly.”

Still, the mayor predicted mandatory masks in schools will not be permanent — provided enough New Yorkers agree to get their jabs.

Top health advisor Dr. Jay Varma has said that City Hall has yet to come up with the number of students who need to be vaccinated before removal of the mask mandate can be considered.
Top health advisor Dr. Jay Varma has said that City Hall has yet to come up with the number of students who need to be vaccinated before removal of the mask mandate can be considered.
Gregory P. Mango

“I believe it’s quite possible to get COVID by next year to the place where the flu is in our lives, where yeah, you’ve got to take a simple precaution, but it’s an easy precaution, and you don’t need a mask,” he said, in comparing flu shots to the COVID vaccine.

De Blasio announced Wednesday that beginning Thursday, kids ages five to 11 can receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 jab at city-run sites. New Yorkers over 12 have been eligible to get inoculated against the virus since May.

City Hall’s vaccine requirement for the city’s public school teachers took effect Oct. 4 In August, the New York State Department of Health issued a mask mandate for public and private schools.  

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