New York state will reassess the mask mandate for schools in the first week of March after students return from the winter break beginning Feb. 21, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday said.
The announcement that New York's mask requirement for schools would be extended after Feb. 21 was paired with Hochul's plan to drop the indoor mask requirement for businesses and other public gathering spaces beginning Thursday.
Hochul indicated a variety of metrics will be used to determine the next steps for its mask mandate in schools, including whether cases have significantly increased after the week off, along with the trend of vaccinations among eligible children as well as hospitalizations and global trends.
COVID-19 tests will be made available to students and their families prior to the week off as part of the assessment on the mask rule.
"After we had kids tested, we are going to make an assessment that first week in March," Hochul said.
Hochul indicated to education groups on Tuesday during an hour-long virtual meeting the mask mandate could be extended beyond Feb. 21 and that week would be closely watched for a rise in cases.
Masking in schools has become part of a heated debate across the country, and neighboring states in the northeast have indicated plans to drop their mask mandate for schools, including New Jersey, Pennslyvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut.