NYC school mask mandate will continue for children under five

March 4, 2022

Image courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

New York City public school students under the age of five will need to continue wearing masks even though the city’s mask mandate in public schools will be lifted on March 7, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Friday. Children under the age of five are still ineligible for vaccination.

Adams on Friday confirmed that the city will be dropping the city’s school mask mandate and proof of vaccination for indoor dining and entertainment as he first announced late last month. The city’s Covid-19 metrics have been steadily declining, with a 7-day average positive testing rate of 1.80 percent, according to the city’s Health Department.

The rate of vaccination among children continues to rise as well. As of today, 56 percent of all children ages 5 to 17 are fully vaccinated, with 65 percent having received at least one dose.

“We want to see the faces of our children,” Adams said. “We want to see their smiles, we want to see how happy they are, we want to see when they’re feeling sad so that we can be there to comfort them.”

In an announcement, Adams reiterated his statement that schools are the safest place for children to be during the pandemic. According to Adams, the current positivity rate for NYC public schools is 0.18 percent.

Masks will still be available for any student or staff who wants to keep using them, and parents who feel more comfortable sending their children to school with masks are welcome to do so. If cases and hospitalizations are to rise again, the city will revisit the mask and vaccination mandates and potentially reinstate them. The mandate’s lifting comes nearly a month after Gov. Kathy Hochul dropped the state’s indoor mask mandate.

Adams also announced a new four-level Covid-19 alert system that aims to help New Yorkers understand the best precautions to take depending on the level of risk. The color-coded system is separated into four levels: very high, high, medium, and low. The city currently stands at a low alert level.

“Our new Covid Alert system gives New Yorkers a roadmap for how to reduce their own risk in the event that we see another surge or increase in transmission,” Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said in a statement. “Covid Alert will keep New Yorkers informed, including about actions to expect from city government. As we look to the months ahead, we must continue to do all we can to prevent unnecessary suffering due to Covid-19.”


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