BROOKLYN (PIX11) — New York City parents continue to roll with the constant changes of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the upcoming end of a mandate requiring toddlers to wear face masks in schools and other education settings.
At a packed Park Slope playground, one woman told PIX11 News that she was happy to hear that the mandate was set to be lifted, and that the shift was long overdue.
Mayor Eric Adams announced on Thursday that the mandate would finally come to an end on Monday. Children over the age of 5 have been allowed to go maskless since April. But kids under 5 had to continue covering up because they were ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Adams had hoped to roll back the mandate for younger children in April, but he announced an about-face, citing rising cases of the variant known as BA.2, or “stealth variant,” then gripping the five boroughs. A Staten Island judge then overturned the requirement, but the city appealed, and a higher judge sided with the city.
Though the mandate is now ending, masks will continue to be available for children who want them, and Adams has encouraged all New Yorkers to continue covering up while indoors.
The woman at the Park Slope playground supported the sentiment, saying that New Yorkers should take precautions that make them most comfortable.
One young girl said that her fellow students have been making their own decisions, with about half choosing to mask up and half electing to forgo face coverings.
But even as mandates wind down, COVID-19 remains a reality of life, with pop-up testing sites still commonplace and New Yorkers resigned to the virus’ ebb and flow.
“The way the flu is, it’s going to be around a long time,” said Lenny DeAngelis, a testing site worker. “It’ll probably be years and years. Everybody will be getting shots every year, a booster shot every year. It’ll be around.”