NYC Parents Demand Schools Drop Mask Mandate in Fall

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A teacher leads her students into PS 179 elementary school in the Kensington neighborhood, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Hundreds of thousands of elementary school students are heading back to classrooms Tuesday as New York City enters a high-stakes phase of resuming in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

By: Hellen Zaboulani

New York City parents are calling on the city not to force children to mask up for school in September.

As reported by the NY Post, the fed-up parents say wearing masks the entire day is needless, cruel and detrimental to learning. Some of the parents are going so far as to say they would consider homeschool or opt for private education rather than make their kids don the masks again. “I’m not willing to send him to school with a mask,” Manhattan mom Katherine Rohland said of her 3 1/2-year-old son. She said her son had to wear a mask at nursery school last year and that he shut down, not talking to anyone, when he wore it. Rohland also said the mask made it difficult for others to understand him. She said, her family will send him to private pre-K program if the Department Of Education requires masks. Other parents interviewed by the Post, with kids as old as 11, also said they would consider homeschooling if the DOE imposes a mask mandate next year.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city was “for now sticking with the idea that, you know, wearing the masks is a smart thing to do in schools. We’ll keep assessing as we go along. But I think for now it still makes sense.” The mayor’s remarks followed updated guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which called for layered protection in order to reopen schools. The CDC also advised that fully vaccinated children do not have to wear masks. The COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for 12 years old and up.

As per the Post, many parents feel the masks are particularly detriment for younger kids. One mom said her son’s speech therapist couldn’t work on his goals because she couldn’t see his mouth. Another parent, Debra Hreczuck, said her 8-year-old son got a bacterial infection on his face from his mask, and that her 5-year-old daughter had a hard time in kindergarten because she could not see the teacher’s face when she made letter sounds. “I feel like at this point, it’s more detrimental for them to be wearing masks than anything else,” said Hreczuck, even though her father-in-law passed away from COVID-19.

“Make it optional. There’ll be some families who want their kids to wear masks. We just want it to be optional,” said James Mermigis, a lawyer representing parents who sued the DOE in May to have schools fully reopen. “Let’s allow the kids to be kids.”