NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a universal mask requirement for child care and daycare centers in the state effective today in response to the Delta variant and recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the state.
The requirement applies to New York State Office of Children and Family Services-licensed and -registered child care centers, home-based group family and family child care programs, after-school child care programs and enrolled legally exempt group programs during operational hours.
According to the governor's office the requirement brings the state into compliance with CDC guidance issued in July and brings child care facilities into alignment with school masking requirements announced by Hochul on her first day in office.
Owner and Director of Jumped Up Jellybeans daycare, Danielle Kinsman, said young kids wearing masks is a safety concern.
“It’s pretty impossible to keep a mask on a two-year-old for an entire day. It doesn’t even seem realistic,” Kinsman said. “You cannot show expressions with a mask on. You can’t show them how to form words. As an owner, I also look at it from a liability. I can’t see if they’re choking. That’s a big issue for me."
Parents and grandparents we asked had mixed opinions about the new rule.
“I understand why they want to do this, but I don’t know how realistic it is to ask a two-year-old to keep a mask on and follow all the guidelines,” Julia Gallagher, mother of toddler, said.
“Personally, I think it’s ridiculous,” grandmother of a three-year-old, Cheryl Snayczuk, said. “All the kids are constantly touching their faces and adjusting their masks. It’s just not going to work.”
The universal mask requirement also applies to state regulated residential and congregate day programs.
New masking requirements will also apply to congregate programs and facilities licensed, registered, operated, certified or approved by the Office of Mental Health, the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. This includes but is not limited to certified residential and day programs, inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities, substance abuse programs, juvenile detention programs, juvenile residential facilities, congregate foster care programs, runaway and homeless youth, domestic violence and other shelter programs.
The governor's office said the requirements apply to anyone medically able to tolerate a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
With the Delta variant on the rise, requiring masks at state-regulated child care, mental health, and substance abuse facilities is a key part of our broader strategy for slowing the spread of the virus, reopening our economy safely, and protecting vulnerable members of our population. For children under 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, masks are the best line of defense against COVID-19 infection. This new mask requirement ensures that children in our child care facilities receive the same protection as children in our schools.
According to the governor's office there have been large increases in COVID-19 cases among children.
Data provided by the Erie County Department of Health Tuesday revealed the highest positivity rates in the county were among those under the age of 19 for the week ending September 11. More specifically, the 5-10 and 14-17-year-old age groups each had positivity rates over 7% and the 11-13-year-old age group's positivity rate was near 10%.