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Reactions of Gov. Hochul to lift mask mandate for schools Wednesday, expert say decision comes from decreasing cases in WNY, Erie County

"To her is just scary. You don't know where people have been around."
image masks lifted.jpg
Posted at 11:15 PM, Feb 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-27 23:15:32-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Sunday afternoon to lift the mask mandate for schools beginning Wednesday, March 2.

This big announcement of lifting mask mandates in schools may not have some parents too excited.

A parent who spoke with 7 News reporter, Yoselin {Ja-sa-Lin} Person has a child who's a freshman at one of the Buffalo Public Schools, and she says she's uneasy about Hochul's announcement.

"Even my child has concerns of the mask mandate getting lifted. She feels uncomfortable as well," says Shawmika Murray, the mother of the student.

Murray says her daughter will consider wearing her masks at all times in school.

"To her is just scary. You don't know where people have been around," the concerned mother says. "You know, vacation other people have been around family members who have traveled. I mean, that's a big concern for me."

Meanwhile, Gov. Hochul says the decision to lift the mask mandates comes from the data from the CDC.

"We're number one among all large states of having fully vaccinated teenagers. We're number two in having five to eleven-year-olds," Hochul says.

Experts say Hochul's decision also comes from decreasing cases here in western New York and Erie County.

"All counties in Western New York were either in the medium or low zone. Here in Erie County. We're in the medium zone," says Dr. Thomas Russo, an infectious disease specialist of the University at Buffalo.

Dr. Russo adds how critical parents should feel about whether they make for their child regarding wearing a mask or not.

"If they feel uncomfortable with their children going to school unmasked, it's okay for children to wear a mask," he says. "Just because the mandate has been lifted doesn't mean the children can not wear a mask."

Superintendent of Hamburg Central School District, Michael Cornell, has been advocating for the lifting of masks for weeks.

He says it's long overdue, and the focus should now be on students' wellbeing.

"I think we'll move quickly past the issue of whether or not students will wear masks," Cornell says. "And focus much more on the academic progress and the mental and wellbeing of our students."

Yet, Murray believes lifting the mask mandate in schools may have some serious decisions for other parents to make.

"I think that some parents may refuse to send their kids to school, and I might be one of the parents. It's a thought," she says.

Dr. Russo encourages parents and caregivers to vaccinate their children.

"We need to continue to vaccinate our children, which is the best means to protect them against immediate consequences of infection but perhaps more importantly long COVID and potential long term consequences," he says.