New York City could end mask-wearing in schools soon, as the city's next mayor has said he wants the mandate lifted. As more young children get vaccinated, the question becomes: When will that day come?
Eric Adams said that unmasking children in schools, allowing them to reveal their faces and their smiles, is one of his goals.
"I think part of the development in the socialization of a child is their smile," Adams said during an interview on Monday. "I think it's imperative if we can find a safe way to do it, I look forward to getting rid of the masks. But it must be done with the science."
In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said vaccinated students and teachers could take off their masks in schools. Whether or not that guidance will expand may depend on how many parents choose to have their children vaccinated and how schools choose to handle students who remain unvaccinated.
During a press conference on Monday, the current mayor supported the idea — eventually.
"I'd love to free our kids and educators and staff from it, but right now is too soon for that action," Bill de Blasio said.
The mayor and the city's health commissioner said that because the majority of children between the ages of 5-11 have yet to be vaccinated, and because the city is heading into the colder months with the ongoing uncertainty about COVID, they cannot give the greenlight to ditch the masks in the school settings just yet.
"That is not today. Masks have been an important component of our layered approach to prevention, along with vaccination, improving ventilation, distancing where possible, and other measures," said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. "Those protocols are why our schools are as safe as they are."
While Adams is in favor of unmasking in schools, he insists he’d only move forward with a change if the health experts say it’s safe.