More than 200 protesters, including at least two dozen children, rallied Wednesday in Mineola, demanding an end to the state mask mandate and calling on Nassau County to defy the governor’s order.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday that the order for students to wear masks in schools would continue for the rest of the school year. The state relaxed outdoor mask requirements for schools, but cited guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising that students should continue wearing masks inside, as they have all year.
Protesters held signs including “I can’t breathe,” chanted “No more masks,” and urged Curran to sign an executive order ending the mask order for schools, in defiance of Cuomo.
“We’re hear to tell Laura Curran enough is enough. About 75% of adults in Nassau County are vaccinated and children need to stop bearing the burden for others’ fears,” said organizer Rose Stein, of Massapequa, during the afternoon rally outside the county legislative building.
“This is child abuse,” she said of the mandate. “It’s 92 degrees and our children are in hot classrooms covering their mouths and noses and it’s not healthy.”
County officials have said the state supersedes Nassau’s authority on when to end the mandate, but Curran supports dropping it.
“It’s well past time for this decision to be put in the hands of parents and educators,” Curran said earlier this week.
Curran did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Some protesters demanded she join them outside the county building.
“If you really cared, you would be out in the forefront demanding the governor drop the mask mandate,” said Michael Rossner of Massapequa Park. “Challenge the governor to take us to court.”
Others vowed to sleep outside the legislative building, and also called for ending vaccine mandates in schools, questioning the safety of the COVID-19 shot for children.
Some of the vaccines have been approved for children 12 and older and are undergoing clinical trials for younger children. Curran and other elected officials did not attend the rally, but Nassau County Libertarian Party Chairman Jonathan Gunther did.
“The government shouldn’t be parenting our children,” Gunther said.
Children spoke about the difficulty of wearing masks in school. Parents held signs saying, “My kid, my choice.”
“It’s been 450 days since our kids were masked, virtual and not able to see their their teachers smiling faces,” said Barbara Abboud of Farmingdale. “They can’t eat lunch and have to play recess six-feet apart. We have to save our children. This is not about science, this is about control.”