LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — The state’s new mask mandate for children two and older has prompted some local parents and child care centers to speak out, they say it’s excessive and harmful.
“Throughout the last 12 to 18 months, we haven’t seen any issues with kids and all the sudden now we have to start to put masks on them? I was very upset and still am,” said Randy Moley Lancaster dad.
“There’s no way my 2-year-old is going to wear a mask all day. He had to get his haircut. It was like 10 mins, he was screaming his head off,” said Kristi Bifaro a Lancaster mom.
Many daycare providers feel as though the mask mandate will have a negative impact on their kids’ development and communication skills.
“We are going to see these impacts down the road,” said Cherice Mchale director of the Brierwood Child Care in Lancaster. “They’re babies. They’re not seeing our facial expressions. They’re not seeing us happy. Some of our older kids are not seeing us upset when they’re doing something bad.”
Seneca Babcock Early Childhood Academy in Lovejoy
At the Seneca Babcock Early Childhood Academy, they serve an at risk population.
They say the new mandate takes the focus off of education and development.
“Just when everybody else is kind of getting released from many of the mandates, children are experiencing more strict mandates,” said Kim Stewart director of programing at the Seneca Babcock Early Childhood Academy. “It’s taking the focus of all the important work that we need to do to prepare children for a lifelong journey of education.”
The center is located in Lovejoy and for the entire pandemic, the kids were allowed to play outside and inside without masks. Now that masks, along with distancing is required for these tots, the staff is afraid that this could impact their development.
“We can have a 2-year-old that comes in and is able to wear a mask for nine hours and we can have a 2-year-old who is nowhere near able to wear a mask for nine hours,” said Stewart. “What’s interesting too, is that we’re doing a lot of developmental screenings. We refer to kids for speech for OT and different things like that. So on top of that, these kids who might need special services, are being asked to wear a mask and they can not do it.”
Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.