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New York Classroom Mask Mandate Brings Long Island Lawsuit

student mask
Alexandra Koch

A Long Island school district has sued New York over a state mandate that requires students to wear masks in the classroom to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Massapequa schools president Kerry Wachter said the state doesn’t have the power to issue the mandate. She said Governor Kathy Hochul first needs to reinstate a state of emergency. Wachter also claims masks don’t help.

“Masking all students from unvaccinated 3-year-old prekindergartners to vaccinated 18-year-old seniors is not universally accepted by scientists and educators as beneficial in all circumstances when weighed against the negative effect it has upon education, especially of young children," Wachter said.

Locust Valley schools are also expected to join the lawsuit.

Both school districts had mask-optional rules in place until the state threatened to oust school board members and withhold state funding if they refused to follow the mandate.

"Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in school buildings is achieved through a combination of proper social distancing, good ventilation and appropriate masking," Wachter said.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.