Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon wants New York to develop a metric that would allow for the removal of masks in public schools, according to a letter he wrote to the state health commissioner on Monday.
“My team stands ready to serve as a resource to help districts implement New York State Health metrics and guidance to enable mask removal in schools,” he wrote. “First, however, we need you and your team to develop and publish these tips.”
“Now, more than ever, we must inspire confidence in our community,” he continued in the letter. “Over the past 23 months, our community has suffered a lot from more than just COVID-19. Our children deserve to know that their community leaders are working to restore a sense of normalcy and consistency in school.
This has been a consistent point from the county executive over the past week.
“Everyone wants to get the metric to take those masks off the kids,” McMahon said during a COVID-19 briefing last Wednesday. “But we have to define it… it’s easier to define a metric when you have 360 cases than when you have 75 cases. Because that’s when these other variables that aren’t science-driven come into play.”
It comes as neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, have decided to suspend their statewide requirements for schools in the coming weeks. For her part, Governor Kathy Hochul, who set New York’s mask requirement for schools on her first day in office in August, indicated that no changes were coming soon and again indicated that the end would be related to the number of children, especially those aged 5 years. 11 years old, who get vaccinated.
“We will assess our situation here in New York,” Hochul said Monday.
Onondaga County reported 119 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and 153 people currently hospitalized. Three new deaths were recorded over the weekend, along with one death recorded in a nursing home.