“I would keep the masks in place, at least in the short term, because they’ve really worked, because the kids have adapted to them well, the adults have adapted to them well,” says Mayor Bill de Blasio when asked about lifting classroom mask mandates. What a coward.
“The kids have adapted to them”? How does he know?
City teachers and other school staff now have a a vaccination rate above 96 percent. Kids age 12 and up are now getting jabbed, and the 5+ cohort just became eligible, too,
Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s top health adviser, won’t say how many kids must get jabbed to warrant lifting school mask mandates. (It’s 80 percent in Massachusetts.) Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi won’t comment, either.
COVID is in rapid decline in the city. Child cases are rare, and transmission even more rare. Masks don’t even do much to prevent transmissions among adults (perhaps a 10 percent drop, when used properly).
And the cost of mask-wearing is serious, compromising socialization and posing particular difficulty for many special-needs kids. Pediatricians and educators say masks can impact young children’s learning. Children need to see facial expressions in order to understand emotions, to process language and to learn word pronunciation.
When it comes to schools, masks are mainly about easing the excessive worries of anxious adults.
It’s time to set a clear course back to normalcy, including in the schools. You don’t have to drop the mandate tomorrow, Mr. Mayor, but you owe New York clear benchmarks for when it will go.