Mayor Eric Adams is standing firm on his mask mandate for New York’s youngest as summer quickly approaches.
Now, more than two months after insisting he wanted to scrap the requirement that children ages 2 to 4 mask up indoors at daycares, public schools and other programs run by the city ”in about a week” – and with the last day of school scheduled in about three weeks – many parents in the Big Apple are fed up.
When pressed on the matter this week, Adams told the Post he couldn’t divulge a specific timeline for releasing the tikes from their mask burden.
“I want to take the masks off and see our babies’ faces as soon as possible. We are ready, not panicked, as we enter the next phase of the pandemic,” Adams said Wednesday.
“My team of health experts and I continue to assess the data, day by day, and we will continue to communicate with New Yorkers with additional updates.”
Danielle Pollack, mother of a 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, expressed her disappointment at the mayor, whom she supported in last year’s election, for not lifting the requirement approaching the last day of classes on June 27.
“As a resident of New York, I voted for Adams because his whole platform was that he would bring things back to normal,” she said. “It’s just very frustrating, because it seems Mayor Adams isn’t doing anything about it, [and] won’t even give a timetable.
In early March, Adams announced the end of public school mask mandates for K-12 students, who are old enough to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but maintained the controversial requirement for younger students. of the city, who are not yet eligible. for the blows.
Children are not required to show proof of vaccination to enter schools at any age.
After weeks of pressure to rescind the rule, Adams announced later that month that the face-covering rule for younger students and daycare attendees would be scrapped starting April 4 unless cases increased.
But all five boroughs saw a spike in infections brought on by the BA.2 Omicron subvariant, so the regulations remained in effect even though hospitalizations are well down from the peak of the pandemic and most cases have been milder.
On April 1, a Staten Island judge lifted mask mandates for toddlers across the city – but that prompted Adams to announce the same day that City Hall would seek an appeal and asked for a stay to keep the rule. controversial in place.
A week later, Adams said he hoped to lift the mask mandate for children “within about a week” as parents staged protests outside City Hall and in Times Square, accusing the mayor of go back on his promise. A few days later, Adams released a statement in which he said he was not ready to pull the trigger just yet because coronavirus cases in the city had “continued to rise.”
Then, a month later, the Adams administration removed the mask requirement that applied to outdoor activities for toddlers, while noting that younger students still had to wear masks indoors.
“Looks like there’s no movement from Mayor Adams or [Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin] Vasan,” said Pollack, a mother from the Bronx. “There hasn’t been an update on what’s to come this summer, and as a parent, that’s very frustrating, and it makes me wonder if New York is the right place to raise my family.”
“My daughter wore a mask the whole time she was in school,” she fumed. “My son is going to start at the same school in the fall, and I never thought it would be a question of whether he had to wear a mask.”
The exasperated parents of New York are not alone.
According to a POLITICO-Harvard survey, more than 40% of parents of school-aged children believe that wearing a mask harms their children’s educational experience, 46% believe that wearing a mask harms social learning and interactions with their child, and 39% said so. affect the mental and emotional health of their child.
Meanwhile, evidence suggests the overwhelming majority of coronavirus cases in young children are mild. Data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that only 0.1% to 1.5% of child COVID cases resulted in hospitalization and 0.00% to 0.01% resulted in deaths.
Data from the city’s health department shows an overall seven-day average positivity rate of 8.83% – down from the peak of more than 9% in the middle of last month, but up significantly from the positivity rates below 3% recorded in April. According to the most recent statistics, the Big Apple is seeing a weekly average of 42 new hospitalizations, up from nearly 100 in mid-May.
Figures show confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths are also down from May – from an average of eight or nine a day to six on Tuesday.
City data shows 78.6% of New Yorkers of all ages are fully immunized against COVID-19 and 88.2% of adults have received at least two injections – inoculation rates that barely moved in recent weeks. Just under 98% of adult residents have received at least one stroke, according to the latest figures.
About 87.5% of city residents of all ages have received at least one injection, while only 38.4% have received a booster shot, according to statistics from the city’s health department.
According to statistics published through May 21, the number of deaths per 100,000 people is 0.43% for vaccinated New Yorkers, but much higher at 7.68% for those who have not received their vaccines. .
As the end of the school year nears, Ana Jelenkovic — a mother of two including a 4-year-old who she says needed private speech therapy because of the masks — told the Post that ‘she was intentionally sending her child to a Tribeca summer program that is not considered a school setting, so city regulations do not apply.
“His preschool summer camp has a mask requirement, so he’s not going,” she said. “I put him in camps where they’re not DOH mandated, they’re not run by preschools.”
Jelenkovic added: “I find it all very dystopian and depressing that as a society and as a city we have come to terms with this policy.”
The Manhattan mum pointed to older children and unvaccinated adults who can still go without masks and other countries that never masked toddlers throughout the pandemic
“We accepted this policy without any responsibility for the ‘why’ or the ‘when’,” Jelenkovic said. “It’s just very worrying that they’re still doing this this summer, because we don’t know ‘when’.”
“The mayor just didn’t give us that ‘when’ and ‘why’.”
Sumayya Ahmad — an Upper East Side doctor and mother of two, ages 3 and 2 — told the Post she’s recently been looking for activities this summer where masks aren’t required.
She said about 200 parents and preschool principals have created a spreadsheet for such activities in the Big Apple.
While the indoor corporate mask mandate in New York was lifted in February, some museums in the Big Apple and all theaters on Broadway are requiring face coverings. Ahmad hopes to take vacations this summer to places where private places don’t have strict masking rules, like Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
“We live near the Met and avoid [it],” she said. “I’m just going to try to get out of New York as much as possible.”
Brian Robinson, a Tribeca father of a 4-year-old daughter who is running to represent the newly drawn 10th congressional district — posited that if Adams were to end the toddler mask mandate, private venues would follow his example.
“If Adams were to waive that, obviously companies wouldn’t feel the pressure to hold that line,” he said.
Robinson, 38, called the toddler mask mandate ‘absurdity in its purest form’, lamenting that her daughter is forced to give dance recitals while wearing masks as parents watch without them.
“At this point, the science doesn’t support it,” the Democratic hopeful told Congress. “It’s excessive.”