NEW YORK (AP) — New York City will end its school mask mandate for children aged 2 to 4 on Monday, citing the subsiding threat of COVID-19 infections.
Mayor Eric Adams said masks would become optional at schools and daycare centers, but nevertheless suggested New Yorkers of all ages continue wearing masks indoors.
“Throughout the current wave, schools have remained the safest places for our children and beginning Monday, June 13, we will make masks optional for 2-4 year old children in all early childhood settings,” the mayor said in a statement.
New York City recorded 241 COVID-19-related deaths in May, up from 135 the previous month — but still far below the more than 1,040 who died in February and nearly 3,280 who died in January and during the peak of the omicron variant-driven wave.
The mandate was supposed to have been lifted about two months ago, but concerns over new variants kept the order in place.
“I have always said that the science will guide us out of the pandemic, and because we have followed the data, which shows that cases are steadily falling, we‘ve beaten back the latest COVID-19 surge,” Adams said.
Infection rates have remained steady over the last several weeks, with average weekly infections hovering around 3,500 new cases. The hospitalization rate has remained low and continued falling, according to state health data.