Friend Co-Sponsoring Bill to Prohibit Mask Mandates for Children

Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats) is co-sponsoring legislation which would prohibit state agencies from imposing mask mandates on children unless they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. The assemblyman points to the state’s successful turnaround of COVID-19 as reason enough to move forward with removing mask-wearing from kids. The state has one of the lowest rates of infection in the country and is among the highest rates of vaccination in the nation.

“New Yorkers have done the work to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and our rates show incredible progress. With this in mind, the state should have already lifted the mask mandate on our children, but instead it just created more chaos and confusion,” said Friend. “I am proud to sponsor legislation to allow for more control in our local communities in regard to our children. They should just have the opportunity to be themselves and be free of unneeded masks.”

In recent days, there has been much confusion caused by state agencies regarding the mask mandate in schools. The state Department of Health on Friday, June 4 announced it was lifting its mask mandate on schools. Then on Sunday, June 6, the state Department of Education (SED) contradicted DOH, stating it would not lift the mask policy. Subsequently, the governor, on Monday, June 7, lifted the mandate on children during outside activities. Friend said he fielded several calls from school officials and parents who were frustrated by the lack of clarity from the state.

The bill would prohibit state agencies from mandating masks for children younger than 18 unless they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. The bill would encompass school and both day and sleep-away camp settings and apply to recreational and organized sports. Friend says the goal is to give back control to local governments and schools to determine the policies that best serve their students and the circumstances facing individual communities.

Friend says that in regions like the Southern Tier, the virus has been well managed and children should no longer be imposed upon with mask mandates. The Southern Tier has a 0.7 percent infection rate and has more than 333,000 people who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.