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NY drops outdoor mask mandates in schools, awaits CDC guidance on indoor requirements

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.

Posted: Jun 7, 2021 1:00 PM
Updated: Jun 8, 2021 5:39 PM

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."

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.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2109677

Reported Deaths: 53558
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings28056310454
Queens2772449955
Suffolk2010083400
Nassau1836243175
Bronx1834576588
New York1382444499
Westchester1296572290
Erie895721806
Richmond749601841
Monroe689591110
Orange48308843
Rockland46936963
Onondaga38928677
Dutchess29470445
Albany24696356
Oneida22614514
Niagara20033372
Broome18619366
Saratoga15362168
Ulster13907257
Schenectady13200205
Rensselaer11228142
Putnam1060592
Chautauqua8951145
Chemung7759136
Oswego762292
Ontario740593
Steuben6952144
Sullivan667276
St. Lawrence663796
Cayuga633792
Jefferson613168
Wayne578270
Cattaraugus572091
Genesee5435124
Herkimer5186109
Clinton483533
Madison456289
Livingston452060
Fulton442191
Tompkins434652
Montgomery4254126
Columbia4064104
Cortland392562
Tioga382963
Warren365857
Wyoming358153
Allegany355587
Chenango349876
Otsego346147
Greene340379
Washington316155
Orleans311883
Lewis280836
Franklin256312
Delaware237938
Seneca201156
Schoharie169217
Essex159326
Yates117826
Schuyler107414
Hamilton3132
Unassigned9211
Out of NY0249
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