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Incoming Gov. Kathy Hochul Tours School In Queens, Indicates She'd Like Statewide Mask Mandate For Students

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Preparing for her transition to power, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul spent another day in New York City talking to educators about the upcoming school year.

"I think we're ready," Hochul said.

Hochul wore her mask, as mandated for everyone inside Corona, Queens elementary school PS 143.

Principal Justine Lucas gave Hochul and Department of Education VIPs a tour.

"We were her first New York City school to visit," Lucas said.

New York City will not require vaccinations for entry to schools, but strict full masking is on the books for the return of full in-person learning.

Doing it statewide is up to the officials with the state Health Department, who know full well what the soon-to-be governor wants.

"I believe we will need mask mandates for children to go back to schools and that will have to be universal it will be statewide," Hochul said.

Hochul is making it clear she's all for a mask policy, but she says right now is not the time to make it official.

"I am not the governor at this moment, but I will be next Tuesday," Hochul said. "In a matter of days, I will be able to say we will have mask mandates. I just don't have that authority at this time I'm not going to overstep."

Argentina Diaz is a school aide at PS 143, and her granddaughter attends the school starting next year. She supports the mandate even though wearing masks all day can be a struggle.

"When it's hot, it's very, very hard," Diaz said. "We have to wear the mask... it's for our protection too."

"I am supportive of the policies to come out and all I know is that whatever policy comes out, we will adhere to it here at PS 143," Lucas said.

Hochul said when mandatory masking goes in to effect statewide, it would only be lifted when lower infection rates allow for that, meaning district by district and not all at once.

Hochul is set to sworn in as the 57th governor of New York next week.

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