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Principal Alice Hom hands out red envelopes and candy in a cultural celebration of the Lunar New Year at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on Feb. 2, 2022, in New York City.

Principal Alice Hom hands out red envelopes and candy in a cultural celebration of the Lunar New Year at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on Feb. 2, 2022, in New York City. (Michael Loccisano, Getty Images/TNS)

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NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — New York City will no longer require public school students and staff to wear masks outdoors while on school property — and the elimination of the indoor mask mandate could follow soon.

Education Department officials announced Friday that the outdoor school mask mandate will end Monday. Students, staff and visitors are still required to wear masks inside the city’s public schools.

“I am so pleased that we are able to make this exciting announcement and safely allow students and staff to remove their masks when outdoors at NYC public schools,” Schools Chancellor David Banks said.

Mayor Eric Adams said Friday that he believes an end to the city’s indoor school mask mandate is “around the corner,” though he did not give a precise timeline. He has also signaled in recent days that he is hoping to scale back the city’s indoor masking and vaccination requirements sooner rather than later.

“Eventually, we’re going to move to the place to ease up on many of these mandates so we can get back to a level of normality that we all are looking for,” Adams told PIX-11.

“When I have on my mask, you can’t see my smile, but trust me I’m smiling,” he added. “The numbers are moving in the right direction. And we’re going to follow the science because, remember, we can’t allow our city to close down again.”

Since schools resumed in-person instruction in September 2020, Education Department officials have mandated masks for anyone on school property, whether indoor or outdoors.

Studies have consistently found that coronavirus is far less likely to be spread outdoors, and other large districts including Los Angeles recently lifted their outdoor school mask mandates.

Friday’s announcement comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul weighs whether to stick with New York’s statewide school mask mandate.

Hochul said health officials will re-evaluate the rule after this week’s mid-winter break, and will base the decision on factors including case numbers, hospitalizations and vaccination rates.

The governors of New Jersey and Connecticut recently lifted their states’ school mask mandates, leaving it to individual school districts to decide whether to require facial coverings.

©2022 New York Daily News.

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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