Watch CBS News

Mayor Adams lifts school mask mandate, but students younger than 5 must continue wearing them

NYC public schools lifting mask mandate for students K-12 01:59

NEW YORK -- Face masks will be optional for New York City's public school students in grades K-12 starting Monday. But kids younger than 5 will still have to wear one.

There was a mix of joy and caution from parents outside PS 187 in Washington Heights after they learned the news, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported Friday.

"I'm happy that my kids can go to school without a mask," said Weronika Wysocki.

"I think it's a little soon, but we'll see how it goes," said Gina Bottamini.

"I know you missed it and I missed it. We want to see the faces of our children. We want to see their smiles," Mayor Eric Adams said.

But the smiling faces of children under 5 at city schools and day cares must still remain covered.

Washington Heights mother Daniela Jampel has a 4-year-old daughter in pre-K. She said it defies logic to continue masking the youngest age group -- the least at risk for COVID, but most in need of normalcy for their development.

"I am furious," Jampel said. "She will have to continue that even as the entire rest of the city is able to unmask. Even as unvaccinated 85-year-olds are able to unmasked."

Mayor Adams updates vaccine, mask policies in NYC 48:55

"The science states that that age group cannot be vaccinated, and among children there's some of the highest hospitalization rates. So we have to save our children," Adams said.

City statistics show there were 1.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people among kids under age 4 last week. There were none for kids 5-17. Hospitalization rates continue to be highest among those 75 and older.

Students age 5 and up do not have to be vaccinated in order to take off their masks next week.

The mayor said they are discussing mandating the vaccine for all students next year. The Department of Education said, so far, 59 percent of students over age 5 have at least one dose.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.