NYS: School districts don’t have to require masks, indoors or out


The New York State Department of Health announced today that students, faculty and all staffers are no longer required to wear masks in schools starting Monday.

Though the measure is still being encouraged, especially those who are unvaccinated, officials said.

The same guidance applies for summer camps.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker issued a letter informing CDC Director Rochelle Walensky of the state’s concern over the “inconsistency in the CDC guidance between children who are unvaccinated at summer camps and the current rules for unvaccinated children at schools,” the announcement reads.

According to the state health department, current CDC guidance for K-12 schools recommends “consistent and correct use of well-fitting face masks with proper filtration by all students, teachers, and staff.”

However, the health department says there is no distinction between masks wearing for indoor versus outdoor activities and does not speak to vaccinated people.

The news comes as parents across the island have grown increasingly wary of the mandates.

For youth camps as well, the CDC guidance suggests strongly encouraging mask use indoors for people who are not fully vaccinated, while engaging in outdoor activities does not require masks regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC says fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask both indoors and outdoors, while unvaccinated people are “encouraged” to mask up in certain higher-risk situations.

With these recommendations in mind, New York State is providing the following minimum state-wide guidance for both settings for schoolchildren, though parents should check with their local school districts for any updated guidance or policies.

  • Indoors, mask use will be strongly encouraged but not required for students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Outdoors, masks are not required; students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated are “encouraged” to wear a mask in certain higher-risk circumstances.
  • Both indoors and outdoors, students, campers, and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks.
  • Schools and camps may choose to implement stricter standards.

Top: An empty classroom with mask used to prevent spread of COVID-19, photo courtesy of Marco Fileccia via Unsplash.