State drops mask mandate for kids ages 2 to 5 at camps, daycare

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2021 at 7:47 am

The state modified its directive for mask wearing for children in childcare sites and at summer camps. The guidance initially required masks to be worn by children as young as 2.

That policy sparked an outcry from parents and many state legislators, including State Sen. Rob Ortt and Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

“This mandate is not needed to protect public health, and only serves to jeopardize the operations of summer camps and childcare centers alike,” Hawley said in a statement on Monday. “I hope to see it swiftly rescinded.”

Later in the afternoon the state Department of Health and the state Office of Children and Family Services said the mask mandate won’t include children between the ages of 2 and 5 in daycare sites.

“Both agencies understand how difficult it is to require the youngest children to wear masks, and have jointly agreed to revise guidance allowing child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic by encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks, effective immediately,” the agencies said in a statement. “The safety of the children in child care programs is of paramount importance. As more families are returning to work, New York State is investing federal funds in stabilizing the industry and expanding child care programs throughout the state, especially in underserved areas.”

The full guidance from the state for mask-wearing at child care, summer camp and day camp programs can be found by clicking here.

Ortt issued this statement on Monday evening after the mask mandate was revised:

“This morning, my colleagues and I were joined by daycare providers and concerned parents from throughout the state at a virtual rally to speak out against the Governor’s misguided mask mandate for children in daycare settings. This mandate was never based in science or simple common-sense, especially at a time when he was signaling that mask wearing will soon be a thing of the past for many adults. It caused unnecessary frustration and confusion for providers and parents alike, and I’m glad to see it lifted.

“I want to thank the providers and parents who joined us to voice their opposition to this out-of-touch edict, and all of my Senate Republican colleagues for their advocacy on behalf of our youngest children.”