New York tells schools to KEEP mask mandates despite judge's ruling
New York state education officials are telling schools to keep enforcing Gov. Kathy Hochul’s indoor mask mandate even after a Long Island judge struck down the requirement on Monday.
The Education Department says the state plans to appeal Monday’s ruling, a step that could keep the rule in place at least until its planned expiration on February 1.
‘While these legal steps occur, it is NYSED’s position that schools should continue to follow the mask rule,’ said department spokesperson Emily DeSantis.
Judge Thomas Rademaker struck down the state’s mask mandate a week before it was due to expire, ruling that the governor doesn’t have the authority to impose it without approval from the State Legislature.
In March, lawmakers ruled that New York was no longer under a state of emergency, limiting the governor’s and the health commissioner’s powers – but Gov. Hochul still re-introduced the mandate in December 2021.
Judge Rademaker said that legislators’ decision to declare New York no longer in a state of emergency means the new measures forcing residents to wear masks in all indoor spaces, which carry fines of up to $1,000 for those who do not comply, are unenforceable and are now void.
It is unclear how many businesses, if any, have been fined for failing to enforce the mask mandate. Gov. Hochul’s office and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which enforces the fines, did not immediately respond to questions from DailyMail.com.
The New York State Education Department is advising schools to keep following Gov. Kathy Hochul’s re-introduced indoor mask mandate. Above, students at White Plains High School in April 2021
A Long Island judge ruled on Monday that Hochul’s law was ‘void and unenforceable.’ Above, students leave the New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m) school in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan on December 21
Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, vowed to fight back, saying in a statement, ‘We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately’
Not all state school districts are going along with the Education Department’s guidance.
‘While it is certain this decision will face legal challenges, until otherwise litigated, mask wearing will be optional for students and kampus terbaik di lampung staff in the Massapequa Schools beginning Tuesday,’ the Massapequa School District, in the New York City suburbs of Long Island, said on its website.
The New York City Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com.
Gov. Hochul’s mandate ‘is a law that was promulgated and enacted unlawfully by an executive branch state agency, and therefore void and unenforceable,’ the Judge Rademaker said Monday.
It was latest setback for executive branch officials at state and federal levels after much legal wrangling over the issue of mask mandates in different states.
Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said she disagreed with the ruling, and Attorney General Letitia James tweeted Tuesday that her office would challenge it.
‘We’re appealing last night’s decision that struck down the mask mandate in New York. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers from #COVID19,’ James, a Democrat, tweeted.
Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court also blocked President Joe Biden’s vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses.
Covid cases have plummeted in New York in recent weeks after surging to record highs at the start of the month
A judge in Texas last week ruled that Biden could not require federal employees to be vaccinated.
Hochul, a Democrat, vowed to fight back, saying in a statement: ‘We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing ev
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She reintroduced the mandate in December amid a surge in Covid cases, forcing residents to wear a mask in indoor public spaces unless business have their own vaccine requirement.
The requirements in New York state, home to around 20 million people, include wearing masks in schools, on public transit and other public indoor spaces.
When Hochul imposed the rule on December 31, she called it temporary. She later extended the original expiration date of January 15 until February 1, with those not obeying risking fines and civil and criminal penalties.
Disagreements and court action over mandates in a number of states have become a flashpoint of the pandemic response in the United States, often dividing Democrats and Republicans.
COVID-19 cases have been dropping across the country over the past two weeks
Hochul declared her own state of emergency almost immediately after the World Health Organization named Omicron as a variant of concern on November 26.
At the time, New York state’s seven-day average of new daily cases was around 6,400. That number rapidly rose until peaking at 73,815 on January 10. It has since fallen to about a third of that.
Rademaker wrote that his ruling is not intended in any way to question or otherwise opine on the efficacy, need, or requirement of masks as a means or tool in dealing with the COVID-19 virus, but that ‘enacting any laws to this end is entrusted solely to the State Legislature.’
Hochul’s Democrats hold large majorities in both houses of the New York state legislature.
The judge’s ruling comes amid an ongoing nationwide row about continuing Covid restrictions and mask mandates.
In the Loudoun County School District – which has been plagued by scandal after scandal over critical race theory-inspired ‘equity’ lessons and transgender issues – schools prevented pupils from going into their classrooms if they were not wearing a facemask on Monday.
Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin had signed an executive action within hours of him taking office on January that aimed to let parents opt out of school mask mandates.
The order was supposed to take effect on Monday but confusion has swirled over the implications since then.
His instructions were either interpreted differently by some districts or plainly ignored with schools continuing to keep pre-existing mask mandates in place for students.
Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order within hours of entering office rescinding mask mandates for schools from Monday, but it appears the policy has been met with confusion
Some districts interpreted the order as being at odds with a state law that deals with COVID-19 mitigation in schools.
Meanwhile earlier this month, California extended its indoor mask mandate until February 15.
The original mandate came into force on December 15 last year and was meant to end in just nine days on January 15.
But Californians will now be made to continue wearing masks in all indoor spaces even if they have received their vaccines.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis imposed a state ban on imposing mask mandates, but some schools defied the order.
The Republican ruled only parents can decide whether or not their children wear masks to school.
It comes as Dr Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current board member at Pfizer, says that the declining cases should be a signal to officials that it is time to start lifting mask mandates across the country.
‘I think certainly on the east coast where you see cases declining dramatically we need to be willing to lean in and do that very soon I think as conditions improve we have to be willing to relax some of these measures with the same speed that we put them in place,’ he told CNBC’s The Squawk Box.
‘We haven’t described clear goalposts for when we’re gonna withdraw a lot of these measures and the two most contentious things right now in the U.S. are the masks among children in schools and the vaccine mandates,’ he said.
He added that in order for people to comply by Covid rules, health officials need to ‘have a flexible doctrine’ that changes as the situation of the pandemic does.
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