State: Masks for kids 2 to 5 years old encouraged, not required


FILE – In this Sept. 9, 2020, file photo, students wear protective masks as they arrive for classes at the Immaculate Conception School while observing COVID-19 prevention protocols in The Bronx borough of New York. Schools and camps across the county are making plans to help kids catch up academically this summer after a year or more of remote learning for many of them. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

New York state officials announced revised mask guidelines for children, eliminating a requirement for some of the state’s youngest New Yorkers.

Monday, officials from the Office of Child and Family Services and the Department of Health said children ages 2 to 5 are encouraged — but not required — to wear face masks while in child care programs.

“We thank the providers who have worked so hard since the start of the pandemic to remain open to serve the families of those who could not stay home and we recognize their valiant efforts in serving working families who need quality, reliable and safe child care,” the statement said.

“Both agencies understand how difficult it is to require the youngest children to wear masks, and have jointly agreed to revise guidance allowing child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic by encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks, effective immediately,” it continued.

Older children, ages 12 to 18, are eligible to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Monday also came with a major announcement for school-aged children in New York City.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promised a return to normal for the nation’s largest public school system.

De Blasio said Monday that classrooms will open for in-person instruction in September with no remote option. The mayor said “It’s time for everyone to come back.”

After closing schools in March 2020, New York City was one of the first large U.S. cities to reopen school buildings in the fall of that year, but the majority of parents chose online-only learning for their children.

De Blasio’s announcement came as officials elsewhere in the country were promising a return to classrooms as well.

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