Childcare center operators raise issues with state’s mask mandate

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:35 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - “It’s not going to work. I have 10 toddlers in the classroom right now and trying to force 10 toddlers to wear them is a little bit ridiculous,” said Autumn Niswonger, lead toddler teacher at Treehouse Daycare in Watertown.

What Niswonger is referring to is a new universal mask mandate handed down from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office. The order applies to children ages 2 and up along with all staff and visitors.

Hochul says it brings childcare facilities into compliance with federal guidance issued in July that recommends mask wearing indoors.

Treehouse Daycare owner Mandy Burt says it will make things in the classroom tricky.

“Especially with the younger children who are non-verbal and aren’t able to speak yet, you know being able to see their face if they put something in their mouth or if they are choking,” she said. “That is going to be a barrier for us to be able to safely make sure these kids are safe.

Staff members at Natasha’s Kiddie Shack Daycare Center in Carthage feel the same way.

“Putting a 2-year-old in a mask is not necessary from safety-wise to developmentally wise,” Abby LaPlatney said. “It’s just not ok.

This mandate is similar to what former Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to enforce last May.

It was ultimately revoked only three days after it was put in place

Hochul says because children 12 and under are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the mask mandate will help stop the spread of COVID-19 until they are able to do so.

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