NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York City public school students and staff no longer have to wear masks outside on school grounds beginning next week, Chancellor David Banks announced Friday.
The policy change will go into effect on Monday. Masks will still be required for all students, staff and visitors inside schools.
“Throughout the pandemic, our schools have remained some of the safest spaces for our students and staff, thanks to our gold standard health and safety protocol,” Banks said in a statement. “I am so pleased that we are able to make this exciting announcement and safely allow students and staff to remove their masks when outdoors at NYC public schools.”
The announcement came on the same day the Centers Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was expected to significantly ease federal mask-wearing guidelines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday will announce a change to the metrics it uses to determine whether to recommend face coverings, shifting from looking at COVID-19 case counts to a more holistic view of risk from the coronavirus to a community. Under current guidelines, masks are recommended for people residing in communities of substantial or high transmission — roughly 95% of U.S. counties, according to the latest data.
The new metrics will still consider caseloads, but also take into account hospitalizations and local hospital capacity, which have been markedly improved during the emergence of the omicron variant. That strain is highly transmissible, but indications are that it is less severe than earlier strains, particularly for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted. Under the new guidelines, the vast majority of Americans will no longer live in areas where indoor masking in public is recommended, based on current data.