NJ deals with school masking controversy as NY offers benefits for young people to get vaccinated

New Jersey

NEW YORK — The next major challenge in tackling coronavirus is vaccinating children 12 to 15 years old, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  

On Wednesday, he announced a major incentive intended to make that challenge less daunting.

“We will raffle off, on a weekly basis, full tuition, room and board scholarships to any public college or university,” for 12 to 17 year-olds who get vaccinated between May 27 and the first week of July, Gov. Cuomo said.  

It’s for all four years of undergraduate education at any SUNY or CUNY campus. That’s a nearly $100,000 value, according to state records, just for getting the two Pfizer shots. There will be 10 full-ride scholarships given away by raffle every Wednesday for the next five weeks.  

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, children and COVID-19 is a big issue, as well.  

Because most 12-to-15-year-olds aren’t vaccinated, and because there is no vaccine available for children under 12, Gov. Phil Murphy has mandated that masks be worn indoors by children at daycares and schools now, and probably into the fall.  

There’s been pushback from some parent groups, educators, and elected officials, but Murphy’s response emphasized public safety.

“We know, thank God, that we haven’t lost many young lives,” he said, “but we also know the young folks can transmit this.”

His COVID-19 executive order also requires that masks be worn at summer camps — even outdoors — at least for now.

A pediatrician who handles a variety of respiratory cases said that the measure may be too extreme.

“Outdoors, nobody needs to be masked at this point,” said Dr. Dyan Hes, the medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics.  

She said that the no-mask rule should apply to everyone.

“From [age] zero, to 18, to 75, to 90,” because “outdoors, the transmission of COVID is so slim.”

However, Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, the medical advisor to New Jersey’s governor, said that the mask mandate at summer camps will remain, for now.

“We’ll see what the CDC has to say” in the weeks ahead, Bresnitz said at the governor’s Wednesday Covid briefing, “and make our own policy based on that.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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