NYS Office of Children and Family Services and Dept. of Health change course on mask mandate for children after pushback

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the Department of Health will only encourage children aged 2 to 5 to wear masks, instead of requiring it. 

“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 to 5 to wear masks, effective immediately,” the two agencies said in a written statement. 

Last week’s mandate for children to wear masks was met with much resistance from parents and government officials alike. Anthony Picente, the Oneida County Executive, and Ryan McMahon, the Onondaga County Executive, wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo Monday asking for the mandate to be lifted. 

“…If you follow science, as you so often preach, research and expert analysis all point to the fact that children are not only less susceptible to being infected with COVID-19, they are also less likely to experience severe symptoms and require hospitalization. And with staff, parents and other adults increasingly being vaccinated throughout our counites, children are at less risk now than ever before.” 

This letter was also endorsed by other government leaders like Senator Rob Ort who joined a virtual rally calling for the end of the mask mandate for children. Sen. Ort stated the decision to have kids wear masks was never based in science and only created frustration.  

“I want to thank the providers and parents who joined us to voice their opposition to this out-of-touch edict, and all of my Senate Republican colleagues for their advocacy on behalf of our youngest children,” said Sen. Murphy. 

Despite the change of heart, NYS OCFS and the DOH strongly encourage “remaining child care staff unvaccinated to do so as quickly as possible.” 

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