SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced masks will no longer be required in schools across the state beginning this Wednesday, March 2.

In her live COVID-19 briefing Sunday, Hochul said there were a number of factors that led to this decision including declining Coronavirus cases, increasing vaccination rates, providing millions of tests to students, and consulting with health and educational experts.

New York’s new guidance comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its mask guidelines on Friday, which states masks are no longer required in counties with low to medium risk assessments.

The agency, however, is still advising that individuals, including schoolchildren, wear masks where the risk of COVID-19 is high.

Hochul stressed that counties and school districts can still choose to enforce masks in schools.

The New York State teachers union and Central New York counties and school districts are responding to the announcement. Many are in agreement with the Governor’s decision to lift the mask requirement in schools.

New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) statement:

Onondaga County: Masks optional in schools

In an interview with NewsChannel 9 on Monday, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said the county will no longer enforce a local mask mandate in schools starting Wednesday, March 2.

“I’m happy the masks are coming off with the mandate. Certainly, any teacher or any parent that wants their children to continue to wear a mask should have that right, and I think that’s what we’re going to see here on Wednesday. If a district for whatever reason wants to come up with their own policy, we’ll give them the ability to do that, but certainly I think we’ve heard from our superintendents that it’s time for the masks to come off for those who want the masks to come off.”

Ryan McMahon, Onondaga County Executive

As of Monday evening, all but one school in Onondaga County will drop the mask mandate, including Syracuse City Schools, the largest district in Central New York.

Syracuse City School District: Masks optional beginning March 2

In a news letter sent to families and staff members, Lafayette Central Schools Superintendent Jeremy Belfield clarified that masks are still required at the Onondaga Nation School and on school vehicles.

“Onondaga Nation leaders have not lifted the requirement for students and staff to wear masks at the Onondaga Nation School,” Belfield wrote. “If there are any changes at ONS, we will be sure to keep everyone updated.”

Oneida County: Mask mandate lifted

Cortland County: Mask mandate lifted

Madison County: Mask mandate lifted

Tompkins County: Mask mandate lifted

According to County Administrator Philip Church, Oswego County also plans on dropping the mask mandate in its schools on Wednesday, March 2.

“It’s my understanding from our Health Department that each district has a medical director, and that districts can make that decision individually,” Church explained.

New York State’s mask requirement will remain in effect at the following places:

  • State-regulated health care settings
  • State-regulated adult care facilities and nursing homes
  • Buses and bus stations
  • Trains and train stations
  • Subways and subway stations
  • Planes and airports
  • Homeless shelters
  • Correctional facilities
  • Domestic violence shelters

This is a developing story. Check here for updates or tune in to NewsChannel 9.