YONKERS, N.Y. (PIX11) — On Wednesday, masks became optional at the nearly 5,000 schools in New York State, by order of Gov. Kathy Hochul. She left the decision regarding mask wearing up to individual school districts statewide.
And in the state’s — and, for that matter, the country’s — largest school district, New York City, masks remain mandatory; at least until the week ends.
Parents and students in both the city, and outside of it, have mixed reactions to the different mask requirements.
Art Micgashi, 7, is a second grader at Yonkers Montessori Academy. The Yonkers school district’s schools are among the 3,000 statewide that allow mask wearing to now be optional.
“I chose to not wear a mask, and it felt weird,” Micgashi said, adding that the face coverings have been a staple in his life for two years.
He said children in his class are taking the optional aspect of the new rule seriously. He said that there are 23 students in his class, about 10 of which decided to wear masks.
Edwin Quezada, the superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools, is choosing to continue wearing a mask in school settings.
“It’s a feeling of excitement,” he said, “but at the same time, it’s a feeling of apprehension.”
Quezada went on to say that his district is respecting the variety of feelings among families, as well as the variety of requirements that remain, regarding masks.
“If you test positive for COVID, you return after five days, and you must wear a mask for five days,” he said. “We are going to see masks in school, and that’s perfectly all right.”
Just seven blocks south of the Yonkers Montessori Academy is P.S.19, in the Bronx.
At P.S. 19, and in the nearly 1,900 other New York City public schools, masks are still mandatory. Parents’ and students’ reactions are mixed.
David Jenkins, a P.S. 19 parent, called the mask requirement “annoying.”
“Personal opinion,” he said, “I think they’re useless.”
Miley Reynolds, on the other hand, is a Bronx seventh grader who said that she values mask wearing, and doesn’t intend to change.
“I’m scared to take off my mask,” she said. “You never know what could happen. You could be next to somebody who’s asymptomatic.”
She said that she intends to keep wearing a mask, even if the city lifts its school mask mandate.
Mayor Eric Adams has said that he’ll decide by Friday whether or not to lift it. If he sees no significant increase in cases, or a greater risk for infections, he’s said, he may allow the city’s 1 million students to be mask optional on Monday.