Permission to go without masks, some New York City students chose not to.
For the first time in two years, students in New York City were allowed into public school without masks on Monday, but some of them said they would keep them.
In elementary schools and high schools, students and parents alike expressed concern that it was too soon, despite Mayor Eric Adams’ announcements that the city had left the Omicron version of the virus behind.
“We did our job as the New Yorker, and now we’re winning,” Adams said in a television interview on NY1 on Monday. “Covid is no longer in control of our lives. We are in control of our lives.”
But according to city data, only 52 percent of K-12 public school students across the city have been fully vaccinated, and 59 percent of students have received at least one dose. The city count also shows that the doses are not evenly distributed.
At Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan, where 93 percent of students are vaccinated, one of the highest rates in the city, more than half a dozen students said they would keep their faces covered before the school day began. Some said they planned to wear masks indefinitely.
“There’s really no cure for COVID at this point,” said Ella Chan, 17, a junior from Stuyvesant, before the 8 a.m. bell. “There’s just too much uncertainty for me.”
15-year-old Eden Di Laila said: “I’m also just asking around, just curious about who’s actually putting the mask on, and it’s just been a huge number of yes’s compared to taking it off. ” However, she noted that others had noted exceptions for chorus or gym class.
14-year-old Max Shimbo was one of the few who did not wear a mask. “I trust the people in the mayor’s office,” he said of how he made his decision. “They know how many cases we are getting and how many people have been vaccinated, so I believe they made the right choice.”
On Staten Island, 5-year-old Richard Crai, a kindergartener, was so relieved about the end of the mask’s mandate that he patted and threw it on after school on Friday. On Monday morning before heading to school at PS1 in the Tottenville neighborhood, where 10 percent of students are vaccinated, he pulled down his lower lip to show it. One of his bottom teeth had just fallen out, and he couldn’t wait to rejoice at the new difference in his smile. “I love it,” he said. “It’s fun.”
His mother, Danielle Imperato, said she was happy with the end of the mandate. “It was good at first,” she said. “But it’s been a long time now.”
PS1’s second grader Emma Billera, 7, said taking off her mask made her “happy, so you can breathe.”
Her mother, Gabby Bilera, said she was tired of the mask mandate. “We are following the rules, but no one knew it would be that long,” she said.
But some older students said they were concerned that the mandate was withdrawn too quickly.
“I think it’s dumb, because Covid is still around, and just two months ago cases flared up out of nowhere,” said Alana Rivers, a 15-year-old freshman at Boys & Girls High School in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood . of Brooklyn, where 46 percent of students are vaccinated. “So I think if you take off the mask, it will make the situation worse.”
She said she still planned to wear a mask. “I feel nervous because a lot of people are going to be exposed to COVID outside the school and now in the school,” she said.
Adil Hasan Contributed to reporting.
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