Educators, health officials react to school mask mandate

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:21 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Governor Kathy Hochul admits it won’t be popular with everyone, but she stresses she believes requiring masks in schools is the right thing to do.

Local educators and health officials we spoke with say they’re in favor of the universal mandate.

“This will just be another layer of protection to help them not get COVID and not spread it to other people,” said Jefferson County Health Planner Faith Lustik. “We want to reduce the number of kids who are in quarantine when there is somebody positive because, obviously, we still have positive cases in our community and that number is going up so we want to reduce that number and keep kids in school.”

Some school officials are happy as well. Up until this point, former governor Andrew Cuomo told districts they were on their own in making COVID rules for the upcoming school year.

“I think it is helpful to have a statewide standard rather than the 700 decisions we were having to make in each of the individual school districts across the state,” said Jefferson-Lewis BOCES superintendent Stephen Todd.

Todd knows some families are against masking in schools, but he says it’s key to getting students back in-person 5 days a week

“Let’s all acknowledge that we want what’s best for our kids. We all want our kids to be safe and, you know, let’s work together to make our schools as safe as we can,” he said.

Centers for Disease Control guidance recommends students still maintain social distancing, 3-feet while masks are worn

More detailed guidelines are expected to be released by the state health department later this week.

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