‘Finally, they can breathe’: Mother and father, tots celebrate mask-free NYC preschools

Large Apple toddlers had been all smiles Monday as they and their dad and mom celebrated the first day of preschool without face coverings for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic started.

Mayor Eric Adams lifted town’s controversial kiddie masks mandate solely final week — when some applications had been already achieved for the college yr and others had mere days or even weeks left.

“I’m relieved because finally they can breathe, thank God,” stated Queens mother Kat Povgoreanu, who was together with her 4-year-old daughter Amelia exterior P.S. 070Q on Monday afternoon. 

“It’s one less thing to worry about now, especially when it’s this hot.”

On Thursday, Adams announced that the masks would be optional for youngsters ages 2 to 4 in public faculties, daycare facilities and different city-run settings beginning Monday, after intense public pressure from parents who wished him to elevate the mandate. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced last Thursday that masks would be optional for children aged 2 to 4 in public school, daycare settings.
New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams introduced final Thursday that masks can be non-compulsory for youngsters aged 2 to 4 in public faculty, daycare settings.
Robert Miller

The long-awaited determination got here after Adams vowed to finish the rule two months in the past after which reneged on the promise on the eleventh hour amid a spike in COVID-19 circumstances, even after some schools had already alerted parents their children might go mask-free.

Although Ok-12 college students have been permitted to shed their masks since early March, the younger toddlers, who’re ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, had been nonetheless required to put on the face coverings in child-care and preschool settings.

Adams continued to make assurances he would elevate the mandate, however the official go-ahead to ditch the coverings altogether didn’t take impact till Monday, when some applications had been both achieved for the college yr or nearly.

A family celebrates end of masks for NYC toddlers.
Adams lifted the masks mandate for preschoolers after immense public strain from dad and mom.
Stephen Yang

Nonetheless, for Ben Brewer and Katelyn Kenney and their 3-year-old daughter Izell, the information was an enormous reduction. 

“I feel great. She’s getting sick anyway at school, so why have her wear a mask?” Brewer, 34, stated. 

“At the height of COVID, sure, but at this point, it’s excessive. We’d forget the mask at home sometimes, and she didn’t like the ones they gave her at school.”

Brewer stated his daughter has solely skilled faculty with a masks on, and whereas he understood why the mandate was in place, contemplating children below 5 can’t get the vaccine, he discovered the rule grew to become pointless. 

Parents like Ben Brewer and Katelyn Kenney  believed the mask mandate to be excessive for young children.
Mother and father like Ben Brewer and Katelyn Kenney believed the masks mandate to be extreme for younger kids.
Stephen Yang

“I mean, they’re 3 years old. It’s just annoying,” Brewer stated. “It’s just a thing they shouldn’t have to deal with at 3.” 

Amira Attia, whose 5-year-old son Haroun continues to be in pre-Ok, known as the mandate “unfair.”

“They don’t even keep it on for a long time, they eat without it and sit close to each other — I think it was unfair for them to wear masks unlike everyone else,” Attia stated. 

One mother who declined to offer her identify stated she’s “throwing the masks out.” 

“I’m very happy now. My daughter can breathe now. She’s free. She smiles, you can see her face,” the mother stated.

Parents at a school
Some dad and mom imagine that the masks mandate ought to keep enforced till their kids can get the vaccine.
Stephen Yang

Some dad and mom stated they weren’t even conscious that the mandate had been lifted, whereas others stated it ought to keep in place till tots can get the vaccine. 

“I know at least one parent who has a child in my daughter’s class who actually had a bad reaction to COVID and had to be hospitalized. So I’d rather have them still wear masks, at least for the time being,” stated Alex Carberry, 48, who has a 4-year-old daughter Nina. 

“She’ll still wear a mask, and I’ll continue to tell her teachers to make sure she keeps it on,” the mother stated of Nina. “Obviously when she’s eating, she can’t, but for my peace of mind, keep it on. They send me pictures. Sometimes it’s a little low, and I’ll text back, ‘It’s not on her nose.’ ”

Ryan Brunette, whose son Marcel simply turned 5 on Could 2, stated he’ll maintain sending his child to high school with a masks and thinks Adams’ determination to elevate the mandate was only a ploy to win over New Yorkers. 

“The mayor’s approval is going down, and so he threw this out there at the last second to bring ratings up,” Brunette stated whereas hanging out together with his son at Central Park. 

“But school is ending anyways, so it just seems kind of silly.” 

Extra reporting by Haley Brown and Cayla Bamberger

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