Public schools in New York State may yet see a mask-wearing mandate for the start of the academic year, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul hinted Wednesday.
Hochul, who’s set to become the state’s top executive upon disgraced Gov. Cuomo’s resignation next week, said the state Health Department has the power to call for mandatory mask usage at public schools.
That appeared to mark a shift from her previous comments emphasizing she supports such a measure, but doesn’t have the power to implement it on her own.
“Mask mandates is something that the Department of Health has the authority to call for. They have that authority now, and I will assess whether or not we’ll know whether that’s been called for,” Hochul told reporters during a visit to a North Corona, Queens, elementary school.
“But I believe that we’ll need mask mandates for children to go back to schools, and that’ll have to be universal and be statewide,” she added.
The comments came as localities around the country have been weighing possible safety measures for the start of the school year.
In New York City, masks will be required for all students, teachers and staff.
There’s no statewide policy yet, though the federal government has been urging mask usage at schools.
It was not immediately clear whether Hochul was expecting some kind of authorization to implement a statewide policy.
“I believe that we will need mask mandates,” she said. “In a matter of days, I’ll be able to say, ‘We will have mask mandates.’ I just don’t have that authority at this time, and I’m not going to overstep.”
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