ALBANY, N.Y. (UPDATED) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo says students and staff will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors during the school day, but each district can adhere to stricter rules if they choose.
"In New York State, we're going to modify the CDC guidance, and allow schools to choose no mask outside for children. In other words, children wear masks in school, inside," said Cuomo. "When they're outside of the school building in recess, etc. -- it's hot, they're running around, but they're outside -- there is no mandate for masks outside. We'll leave that up to the local school district."
NEW: NYS schools will no longer be mandated to require that students wear masks outdoors.
The individual decisions will be up to local school districts.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 7, 2021
Masks will still be required indoors, despite a letter Health Commissioner Howard Zucker sent to the CDC Friday, indicating the state planned to drop the indoor mask mandate starting Monday.
Cuomo backtracked when asked about the conflicting guidance, saying the state never said the new rules would be effective this week. However, Zucker’s letter clearly reads “We plan to make this guidance effective on Monday June 7.”
In his letter, Zucker cited the inconsistencies in rules for schools and summer camps as the reason for the updated guidance. On Monday, Cuomo and Zucker both said dropping the outdoor mask mandate better aligns the guidance for both.
"We have a disconnect right now between the school guidance and the camp guidance," said Cuomo. "You send your child to camp, they don't have to wear a mask. You send a child to school, they have to wear a mask, even outside. How do you square those two regulations? I don't think you can. And that's important, because if people don't think the rules are logical, they're not going to want to follow the rules. So we're going to align them, for schools outside -- if you can go to camp and run around and play volleyball and not wear a mask -- in the playground in school, you can not wear a mask."
Rome City School District Superintendent Peter Blake sent the following letter to families and staff after Cuomo's announcement:
"As you may be aware, Governor Cuomo has announced today that New York State schools no longer have to require mask wearing for students while outside, only. Please be advised that effective immediately, all students and staff participating in outdoor activities as part of the Rome City School District will not be required to wear a mask. This will include all extracurricular and athletic activities, unless otherwise directed by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
"If any further information is provided, I will update you as soon as possible. Thank you all for your continued understanding and support of our students and staff."
Cuomo said he spoke with CDC officials over the weekend, and they said the national guidance on masks inside schools will not be updated for several weeks.