Kathy Hochul gave her blessing for schools to force children to cover their noses and mouths across New York, on Aug. 15. The incoming state governor described mandatory face masks in classrooms as a vital step to help cope with a new wave of COVID-19 infections.
“Masks for kids in schools, this is something that I believe has to occur to make sure that our teachers are safe, [and] the administrators are safe,” she said according to CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Each child that a parent sends off to school … trusts that that school is going to take care of their most precious child in their entire lives.”
Hochul promised to be flexible and consider all options as the pandemic changes.
“Circumstances continue to change and I do not want to have a hard-and-fast rule from day one that is going to be in effect necessarily even a month later, depending on what this variant does,” she said according to the broadcaster.
The remarks came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for elementary and high schools ahead of the 2021-2022 school year. Children aged 2 and older must wear a face mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status due to the Delta variant.
National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins revealed outbreaks are occurring in schools where students do not wear masks, forcing them to return to remote learning.
Hochul vowed to collaborate on increasing vaccination rates with outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and his successor, who is largely expected to be Democratic nominee Eric Adams.
The governor admitted she has no authority to order school staff to be immunized since the state Legislature has that power.
“I do not have the executive power to do that,” she said according to the broadcaster. “The legislature gave it to the governor for the last two years dealing with the first wave of COVID but it is not some power that I have right now.”
The Democrat promised to speak with legislative leaders on taking “whatever action” is necessary to “protect people.”
Her predecessor Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace just days earlier in the wake of sexual harassment allegations from former aides, a state trooper, and nine others.
BL previously reported after CDC updated its COVID-19 guidelines, many areas started reinstating mask mandates across the nation. Republicans from Florida and Texas have voiced objection to the measure.
“In Florida there will be no lockdowns, school closures, restrictions and mandates in the state of Florida,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said earlier.
“So no voter ID but you have to show your medical papers just to be able to live an everyday life? Give me a break,” the governor said.
He promised the Sunshine State will uphold freedom, and never become a “biomedical security state.”
“If you are trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I am going to stand in your way and … stand up for the kids in Florida,” De Santis said. “If you are trying to restrict people, impose mandates, ruin their jobs and livelihood–if you are trying to lock people down–I am standing in your way.”