LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — Niagara County officials say the county would not continue the mask mandate in schools if given the choice by New York State.
On February 9 Governor Hochul announced the state would lift the mask mandate for businesses and venues, while the mandate would remain in place for schools and other settings such as health care facilities and public transportation.
A mask mandate has been in place in schools since the start of the school year. It was set to expire on February 21, but Hochul announced an assessment would be made in early March based on the following metrics on what possible new guidelines would be:
- Cases per 100,000
- Percent positivity
- Hospital admissions
- Pediatric hospitalizations
- Global trends
A bipartisan joint statement from Niagara County Legislature Majority Leader Randy Bradt and Minority Leader Chris Robins says the county would not continue the mask mandate in schools if given the choice by the state. Bradt and Robins cited the county's daily average and seven-day average of COVID-19 cases and that more than 40 states across the U.S. have either no mask mandate in schools or have established a date to lift the mandate.
The statement continued on to say "schools should be mask-optional, so a parent is empowered to make a decision that they feel is in the best interest of their child."
You can read the full joint statement below:
Today, Niagara County has both the lowest daily average and seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Western New York, and the third lowest daily average in New York State. While it has taken some time to come down from the peak of Omicron cases in early January, clearly we are in a much better position. We thank the public for all of their patience amid growing frustration and a sentiment that it is time to get things as close as possible to back to normal.
That is why we have come together in a bipartisan manner to call on the state to end the mask mandate in schools. More than 40 states across the country have either no mask mandate in schools or have established a date certain to do so. Those states show that universal masking is not the only way to keep our students and staff safe.
Rather than a mandate, schools should be mask-optional, so a parent is empowered to make a decision that they feel is in the best interest of their child. If the state chooses to allow each county to make its own decision, Niagara County would not continue the mask mandate in schools.