NEW YORK (PIX11) — A State Supreme Court judge in Nassau County ruled Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate was unconstitutional.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said in August that all students and staff would need to wear masks in schools. Then in December, she announced a mask requirement for all indoor businesses and venues unless they already require proof of vaccination to enter. Hochul on Monday said she would challenge Judge Thomas Rademaker’s mask ruling.
“My responsibility as governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Hochul said. “We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.”
In Nassau where the ruling was made, County Executive Bruce Blakeman had previously signed a trio of executive orders authorizing police to end enforcement of mask mandates.
“A judge declared that Gov. Hochul’s student mask mandate is UNCONSTITUTIONAL, deeming mandates invalid statewide,” he wrote on Facebook Monday, calling the judge’s ruling a win for parents’ rights. “If you want to wear a mask, we support you. If you don’t, it’s your constitutional right.”
The State Education Department sent a letter about the ruling to superintendents around New York. They wrote schools must continue to follow the mask rule.
“The State Education Department understands that Nassau County Supreme Court has ruled that the Department of Health exceeded its authority in enacting the mask regulation, 10 NYCRR 2.60, in Demetriou et al. v. New York State Dep’t of Health et al. This regulation is the subject of conflicting decisions, insofar as Albany County Supreme Court recently upheld the regulation in Massapequa UFSD et al. v. Hochul, et al,” the Education Department wrote. “It is SED’s understanding that the Department of Health will appeal the Nassau County Supreme Court decision, which will result in an automatic stay that will unambiguously restore the mask rule until such time as an appellate court issues a further ruling. Therefore, schools must continue to follow the mask rule.”
A New York City Department of Education spokesman confirmed students should attend city schools with masks on Tuesday.
“Mandatory masking has also been DOE policy since before the state adopted its mandate, so this decision has no immediate impact on New York City schools,” he said.