MAKE MASKS OPTIONAL IN ALL NEW YORK SCHOOLS ON JANUARY 3rd, 2022
We, the undersigned residents, students, teachers, parents, grandparents, caregivers, and concerned citizens of New York urge state leaders to end the school mask mandate on January 3rd, 2022, making masking optional for all students, teachers, and staff regardless of vaccination status.
Furthermore, local districts should not have the authority to require masking for its students, teachers, or staff. Given clear learning and educational impacts of prolonged masking, state leaders must hold schools accountable for continuing restrictions that disrupt student learning.
A mask-optional approach allows students the ability to see emotions, hear language, and experience connection in an unrestricted learning environment. The past 21 months have shown that, in the absence of state accountability, local districts (school committees, superintendents, boards of health, etc.) will default to more restrictive protocols, not based in evidence and above and beyond state public health guidelines.
Students need an educational environment in which they can recover from the ongoing isolation, stress, and disruption over the last 21 months. A mask optional environment, regardless of vaccination status, will allow this recovery to begin.