NEW YORK (WWTI) — An announcement made late Monday night may change mask mandates in New York, however, possibly not for schools. After a Nassau County Supreme Court Judge struck down the mandate, many schools confirm that their mask mandates remained unchanged.
The mask mandate was first enacted in December by Gov. Kathy Hochul and required face coverings in schools and other public places. On Monday, Supreme Court Judge Thomas Rademaker of Nassau County wrote that the governor does not have the authority to impose the mandate since emergency powers are no longer in place. Rademaker decided that the statewide mask mandate was unconstitutional.
The court document states, “While the intentions of Commissioner Bassett and Governor Hochul appear to be well-aimed squarely at doing what they believe is right to protect the citizens of New York State, they must take their case to the State Legislature.”
Schools maintaining their masking rules point to guidance from the New York State Education Department. NYSED released a statement to New York school districts on Monday night:
“The State Education Department understands that Nassau County Supreme Court has ruled that the Department of Health exceeded its authority in enacting the mask regulation, 10 NYCRR 2.60, in Demetriou et al. v. New York State Dep’t of Health et al. This regulation is the subject of conflicting decisions, insofar as Albany County Supreme Court recently upheld the regulation in Massapequa UFSD et al. v. Hochul, et al.
“It is SED’s understanding that the Department of Health will appeal the Nassau County Supreme Court decision, which will result in an automatic stay that will unambiguously restore the mask rule until such time as an appellate court issues a further ruling. Therefore, schools must continue to follow the mask rule.”
In the North Country, South Jefferson Central School District Superintendent Scott Slater said that the “District will continue to monitor the situation and share out details once more information is known.”
“As we’ve experienced since the onset of the pandemic, and most recently with the guidance on contact tracing and quarantines, this is all new and shifting by the moment. Official statements are expected from local and state health departments providing increased clarification,” Slater added in a district message.
Hochul also released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court ruling: “My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. We strongly disagree with this ruling, and we are pursuing every option to reverse this immediately.”
Although no full reversal has been made to the mask mandate, the New York Supreme Court is requesting this matter to be sent to the State Legislature.