New York State: No more masks for young children in child care programs

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ALBANY N.Y. (WIVB) – In a joint statement released Monday from New York State Office of Children and Family Services and the Department of Health, guidance has been revised for child care programs saying young children no longer have to wear masks.

This comes after hundreds of parents were set to sue the state over the revised rule.

The statement reads that while masks for children ages 2-5 are encouraged, it is not required.

Read the full statement below:

We thank the providers who have worked so hard since the start of the pandemic to remain open to serve the families of those who could not stay home and we recognize their valiant efforts in serving working families who need quality, reliable and safe child care.

Both agencies understand how difficult it is to require the youngest children to wear masks, and have jointly agreed to revise guidance allowing child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic by encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks, effective immediately.

The safety of the children in child care programs is of paramount importance. As more families are returning to work, New York State is investing federal funds in stabilizing the industry and expanding child care programs throughout the state, especially in underserved areas.

We strongly encourage any remaining child care staff who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to prevent the
 

That leaves parents of kids ages five to twelve wondering where their children stand.

At the same time the two agencies released their statement, the Health Department released the updated interim guidance for childcare and summer camps. It says – as of May 24, 2021 – “older children/campers are encouraged but not required to wear face coverings.”

Corey Hogan of HoganWillig Law Firm is representing dozens of day care owners and more than 100 parents with plans to file a lawsuit against the state.

Although it was going to be against the original mask requirements, he said he still plans to go to court if children ages five through twelve must continue to wear one.

News 4 has reached out to officials with New York State multiple times for clarification on this new guidance; we have not yet heard back.

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