NYC lifts tot mask mandate for all outdoor spaces

Toddlers and daycare teachers in the city are now allowed to remove their face coverings – outside, at least.

The city’s health department issued the new edict on Friday, freeing up toddlers and staff members who previously could only remove their masks outside on school premises, giving a break only to those who are lucky enough to have playgrounds on site.

The new move now allows mask removal for all tykes and their teachers in places such as public parks and playgrounds.

Children and staff should always wear their COVID-19 masks indoors.

“The risk of transmission outdoors is low,” Michael Lanza, a Health Department representative, told The Post on Friday. “This allows us to make masks optional outside, even when children in daycare may interact with those outside of their program.”

Chloe Pashman, director of education at a preschool in the Bronx, told The Post: “It’s a welcome change – although it should have been in place years ago.

People hold a rally outside City Hall to protest toddler mask mandates on April 4.

“Field outings, neighborhood walks are part of our program,” she said. “So when … [the kids] take walks around the neighborhood to observe the changes in the trees, they will be able to see the teacher[‘s face] now.”

Child masks are still required indoors and on public transport – a rule some families, including Tara Murphy and her 4-year-old toddler in the West Village, are waiting to see changed.

“Some of us think lifting this outside mandate is a victory,” said Murphy, a former kindergarten teacher. “But some of us think it’s an appeasement.

Sign reading "unmask my toddler" takes place at the rally.
Masks are still mandatory in transport and indoors for toddlers.
Jon Cherry/Getty Images

“It should have been in place for a year and a half – since we knew it was safe to be outside,” she said.

Students at K-12 schools across the city have the option to remove masks indoors and outdoors, even as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in New York has risen from ‘low’ to ‘medium’ this week. City health department guidelines recommend officials consider requiring face coverings in schools at this level, but the Adams administration has not reinstated the mandate.

New York Post

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