More than two months after assuring weary parents that he hopes “within a week or so” to lift the indoor mask requirement for 2-to-4-year-olds in city-run programs, New York City Mayor Eric Adams is still insisting toddlers mask up, and with summer on the way, parents have had enough.
“I want to remove masks and see our babies’ faces as quickly as possible,” Adams told the New York Post on Wednesday. “We are prepared, not panicked, as we move into the next phase of the pandemic.”
What he wasn’t prepared to do was give an actual timetable.
“My team of health experts and I continue to evaluate the data, day after day, and we will continue to communicate with New Yorkers with additional updates.”
For Danielle Pollack, whose children are two and three years old, that simply isn’t good enough.
“As a New York resident, I voted for Adams because his whole platform was that he would get things back to normal,” she said. “It’s just been really frustrating, because it seems like Mayor Adams is doing nothing about it, [and] won’t even give a timeline.”
As BizPac Review reported, Adams dropped the mask requirements for K-12 students in early March but left the mandate in place for children under 5 who were not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 6, 2022
Barring a spike in COVID cases, Adams promised at the time, “we’re going to lift for your babies as well. I want them taking their mask off.”
“I’d rather have people complaining against me than us losing our babies in our city,” he added.
On April 1, a state judge struck down the toddler mask mandate, calling the requirement “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable,” only to have another judge stay the order just hours later, American Wire News noted at the time.
Faced with furious parents in Times Square and at City Hall, Adams said he hoped the mask requirement would be lifted “within a week or so,” only to have him extend the mandate as COVID cases once again began to rise.
NYC Mayor Adams goes back on his word on masks, blows off upset parents for glamorous night on town https://t.co/6fco2XFQl5
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) April 4, 2022
While he nixed the masks for toddlers engaged in outdoor activities a month later, parents were still required to cover their children’s faces for indoor learning and daycare.
“It feels like there’s no movement at all from Mayor Adams or [Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin] Vascan,” said Pollack. “There’s been no update about what there will be in the summer, and as a parent, it’s very frustrating, and it makes me question whether New York City is the right place to raise my family.”
“My daughter’s been in a mask the entire time she’s been in school,” the Bronx mom continued. “My son is going to be starting in the same school in the fall, and I never would have thought it would be a question of if he has to wear a mask.”
Ana Jelenkovic, whose 4-year-old has had to see a private speech therapist because of the masks, told The Post she’s getting around the city’s school regulations by sending her child to a summer program in Tribeca. As the program isn’t considered a school setting, the city’s restrictive regulations don’t apply.
“His preschool summer camp has a mask requirement, so he’s not going there,” Jelenkovic said. “I’m putting him in camps where they’re not mandated by the DOH, they’re not run by preschools.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 22, 2022
“I find it all very dystopian and depressing that as a society and as a city we have come to just accept this policy,” she added. “We’ve accepted this policy without any accountability for the ‘why’ or the ‘when.’ It’s just very concerning that they’re going to be doing this continuing in the summer, because we don’t know the ‘when.'”
“The mayor has just failed to give us that ‘when’ and that ‘why,'” she said.
Dr. Sumayya Ahmad, the mother to two toddlers, says, given that some museums and all the Broadway theaters still require masks, she’ll be getting out of the Big Apple as often as she can.
“We live near the Met and have been avoiding [it],” she said. “I’m just going to try to leave New York as much as possible.”
And Brian Robinson, who is running as a Democrat to represent New York’s 10th Congressional District, believes that, if Adams would only lift the toddler mandate, other venues would follow suit.
“If Adams would back off of that, then obviously businesses wouldn’t feel the pressure to hold that line,” the father of a 4-year-old said, adding that the toddler mask mandate is “absurdity in its most pure form.”
“At this point, the science doesn’t support it,” Robinson said. “It’s excessive.”
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