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Indoor mask requirements in schools remain as state lifts COVID-19 restrictions

Posted at 11:41 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 23:41:55-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York has reached a 70% first dose vaccination rate. Governor Andrew Cuomo is lifting COVID-19 restrictions for most places, some parents said schools should be included.

“I’m frustrated and my first question is where is the logic," said Kelly Gast of Grand Island.

Gast said children do other activities without masks like dance recitals and little league. She said her son has severe allergies and asthma.

“He wants to go to school, so he doesn’t complain so much about wearing his mask until during the day those symptoms present themselves and he struggles,” Gast said.

The state requires masks inside schools. Superintendent of Pioneer Centrals Schools Ben Halsey said masks will continue to be optional. The district put the policy in place more than a week ago. The state first said masks would not be required at schools, then changed course.

Parents like Shannon King gathered outside the high school to show support for Halsey and board members as they entered Tuesday night's board meeting.

“We think it’s amazing to be able to give families the choice of what’s best, you know you can wear a mask or you don’t have to, let the families decide for the kids,” King said.

Halsey points to day cares and camps as places where masks are not required.

“There’s no consistency with why they’re wearing masks in the school day when we have all our other safety parameters in place.” Halsey said.

7 Eyewitness News asked Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul if the indoor mask requirements for schools could change.

“We’re following the CDC guidelines on that strictly, so we’ll be watching closely and talking to the CDC about when that’s gonna be changing, and I truly understand the sentiments of all the parents,” Hochul said.