While the indoor mask mandate lifted for New Yorkers on February 9th, nothing has changed for children, despite science showing that masks can come off safely and immediately.
Since parents can no longer trust public officials or public health to make appropriate decisions for children, our lawsuit was filed on Friday, February 11th, in Westchester County, seeking to permanently enjoin the State of New York, New York State Department of Education, New York State Office of Children and Family Services, and New York State Health Department from enforcing the mask mandate for children ages 2 and up in daycare and school settings. Our action includes plaintiffs from various counties across our state and is supported by eight (8) experts, many nationally-renowned, in the fields of epidemiology, virology, pediatric psychology, pediatric speech and language pathology, engineering, and industrial hygiene, among others.
Our lawsuit argues that the State’s prolonged forced masking policy has greatly harmed children academically, socially, emotionally, and physically while providing no benefit to limiting transmission of COVID-19 in schools or daycares. Through our experts, we show that the State has failed to cite to any evidence that establishes a causal link between masking children and reducing transmission of COVID-19 in daycares or schools, and therefore such policies are arbitrary, capricious, and lacks a rational basis. Our lawsuit separately argues that the masking policy violates the separation of powers clause the New York Constitution and thus the mask mandate must be invalidated.
Parents have learned over the past two years that New York State has failed to put children first in any decisions both under Kathy Hochul and Andrew Cuomo. The State has never provided any data or rationale in their decision making, with numerous child covid policies based on arbitrary guesses. The experts in our suit provide the technical and scientific data that should have been analyzed by the state, yet they have chosen to ignore the facts or do any analysis of their own.
Masks do cause harm to children. There is no data or science to support the continued masking of children in public schools, while conversely, we know for a fact that masking children beyond this moment contributes to multiple, deleterious effects. Masks were a temporary mitigation in 2020 when little was known about the disease. The science and the data two years later must not be ignored and it is the hope of parents across the state that justice will prevail for our children.
WNY Students First advocates on behalf of all children and families in the region on this issue and across the State of New York.