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Mask-Less Children Join Parents At Rally On Long Island Protesting State Mask Mandate

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The state mandate to wear masks in schools is back in effect for now -- a decision hailed by Gov. Kathy Hochul as critical common sense to save lives.

But, as CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, families who want mask wearing optional rallied Wednesday in Hauppauge.

Some children were taken out of school to join a rally with their mask-less parents.

"These are my children and it is my choice whether I want them masked or vaccinated. It's not the government's choice to do that. They didn't birth them. I did," said parent Tiara Salkind, whose children are in the Longwood School District.

Salkind sent her children mask-less to school Tuesday, in the midst of chaos and confusion over the court appeal.

When asked what it was like not having to wear a mask in school, 5-year-old Sophie Salkind said, "So great. I loved it with all my heart. I couldn't stand it."


Districts that declared masks optional must require face coverings again, after a judge suspended a ruling that masks were illegal.

"There is no authority. There is no crisis. There is no need. There is no common sense behind the ruling, so I am going to continue to fight," said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who has led the charge against the mandate.

Medical experts say going mask-less in indoor group settings remains dangerous. Jericho is among the districts believing masks keep its COVID-19 cases at bay.

"I don't understand, in the middle of winter, in the middle of Omicron, this is not the time to be arm wrestling over whether masks work or not," Superintendent Henry Grishman said.

"I think the kids should be wearing masks. I think everybody in the school should be wearing masks," Rockville Centre parent Gale Coughlin said.

"We've been wearing masks. So far it's been working. I don't know why we would stop," added parent Carlos Hernandez, also of Rockville Centre.


Meanwhile, the family of the lead plaintiff in the case to overturn the mandate spoke at the rally.

"My mom and dad are just helping us not wear masks," 8-year-old Michael Demetriou said.

"Yesterday, what happened with the judge, we don't look at it as defeat. We look at it as we keep on fighting," parent Randi Demetriou added.

A hearing is scheduled Friday at the state Appellate Court in Brooklyn. The stay will remain in effect until a final determination from the courts on whether to uphold or overturn the state mask mandate.

Doctors that spoke to CBS2 said there should be no rush to take off masks too soon because they provide protection for teachers and students with compromised health issues.

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