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Protesters call on Cuomo administration to drop mask mandate for kids

Ellen Abbott

A group of central New Yorkers held a protest in Syracuse Thursday, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to end the mask mandate for children, as the number of coronavirus cases continues to drop in New York.

Christine Wood of Liverpool said the continued state regulations that require masks in schools has forced her son to continue learning from home, instead of going to school.

“He’s learning online because of spring allergies,” Wood said. “I can’t send him to school when he’s sneezing. Not only will it frighten people, but he’ll be sneezing into the mask and holding that on his face all day."

Wood was one of the protesters in front of the Civic Center in Syracuse, home to the Onondaga County Health Department. Advocates want the county to put pressure on the Cuomo Administration to rescind all mask mandates, especially the facial covering requirements for school-aged kids. While in school, children don’t have to wear masks outdoors, but state regulations require facial coverings for kids indoors, and that will stretch into the summer months. 

Wood says at the very least, the state should allow local governments to make these kinds of decisions at a time when Onondaga County has the lowest number of COVID cases it’s had since March of 2020.

“All the areas in the state have different levels of the virus around, so it should be local. We are down to so few cases."

The local decision making aspect is one Nicole Pruett of Sandy Creek agrees with.

“We have to work with our local legislators to let them know that there are concerned parents and constituents in our county that want our kids unmasked, and then those legislators can put pressure on the top officials,” said Pruett.

At least one Republican state lawmaker has introduced legislation that would prevent state agencies from mandating mask requirement for kids.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.