Mask requirement for Pre-K kids in NYC to continue appeal

Children ages 2 to 4 in New York City will be required to wear face coverings when they return to their classrooms and daycares on Monday, and will continue to do so until a higher court reviews the decision of a Staten Island judge, the city’s mask mandate pick it up, or until the city drops it.

State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Porzio ruled April 1 in favor of a group of parents who sued Mayor Eric Adams and city officials in March to overturn the mask mandate, arguing that the city’s policy was “absurd.” be because the requirement was lifted for children 5 and older. The lawsuit also states the city does not have the authority to enforce the mask mandate.

Judge Porzio agreed, issuing a unilateral decision saying the city’s policies were “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”

City attorneys immediately appealed Porzio’s decision to the higher court, the Second Division of the Brooklyn Circuit of Appeals, asking the court to temporarily stay Porzio’s decision until the Circuit Court hears the city’s appeal.

The appeals court on April 1 granted the city’s emergency request, allowing the mask mandate for preschoolers to remain in place for the time being, and set a hearing for April 11 to decide whether the policy stays or goes.

“COVID-19 cases have increased dramatically in the city in recent weeks, and now is not the time for unsupported judicial interference in public health decision-making,” the city said in court filings.

Attempts to reach the parents’ lawyer on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Mayor Adams had planned to drop the mask mandate for preschoolers starting April 4, but only if COVID-19 cases remain low. With cases rising, fueled by an Omicron subvariant, BA.2, the mayor ruled on April 1 that 2- to 4-year-olds who are too young to be vaccinated must continue to wear face coverings while in classrooms and daycares.

Preliminary data suggest that omicron subvariant BA.2 is more contagious than other omicron subvariants, including BA.1.1 and BA529, which city officials said accounted for nearly all cases during the recent omicron surge.

Because 2- to 4-year-olds are not eligible for vaccination against COVID-19, the number of unvaccinated people in daycares and preschools increases the risk of community spread, the city said in court filings.

Other ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19, like social distancing and handwashing, are more difficult to enforce among children, the city said.

“Universal masking therefore represents one of the strongest, if not the strongest, defenses against COVID-19 for facilities with children ages two to four,” the city said in court filings. “For these reasons, both the city and state of New York have had stricter rules for this environment throughout the pandemic.” Mask requirement for Pre-K kids in NYC to continue appeal

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