New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik blasted Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul’s announcement on Wednesday that lifts mask mandates on businesses but continues to require masks on children in schools and preschools across the state.
“Kathy Hochul’s hypocrisy is showing. The science is clear – children are the least vulnerable to COVID-19, but Kathy Hochul refuses to lift mask mandates in schools and continues to enforce the masking of even Pre-K students,” Stefanik wrote in a statement.
“Even though multiple Democrat Governors across the Northeast have dropped their mandates, Governor Hochul is forcing three-year-olds to wear masks. It is past time for these authoritarian mandates to end, but to Kathy Hochul, this is clearly about politics, not New York families,” she added.
Hochul stated on Wednesday that the temporary measure would be allowed to expire on Thursday.
“It was an emergency temporary measure put in place only two months ago,” Hochul said on Wednesday. “At this time, we say that is the right decision to lift this mandate for indoor businesses and let counties, cities and businesses make their own decisions on what they want to do with respect to masks or the vaccination requirement.”
In a separate announcement, Stefanik joined a letter from the New York Republican delegation of House members on Thursday to demand Hochul end the state’s school mask mandate.
It's past time for Governor Hochul to put an end to her mask mandate in schools.
Let our children get back to being children.https://t.co/jkzC42TLko
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) February 10, 2022
“In light of the announcements by the Governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware, we write…to urge you to immediately rescind the onerous and unconstitutional mask mandate in New York State’s schools. We have heard from countless families throughout our districts expressing their concerns with the mandate, and how it has negatively impacted their child’s experience in the classroom. The time is now to put an end to this unlawful mandate and to allow our children to get back to being just that, children,” the lawmakers wrote.
The letter comes as multiple states in the Northeast and Democrat-led states in other parts of the nation have announced an end to school mask mandates.
“After years of abiding by public health safety guidelines, children are itching to be able to return to some semblance of normalcy. Knowing that the risk of transmission among children is extremely low, it is counter-intuitive to keep this ill-conceived mandate that does little to improve the wellness and safety of our state’s children. For these reasons, we urge you to end these punitive measures for once and for all,” the letter added.
The other Republicans who joined the letter to Hochul included Andrew Garbarino (R-NY-02), who led this letter, as well as Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Chris Jacobs (NY-27), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), John Katko (NY-24), Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and Tom Reed (NY-23).
Stefanik has repeatedly championed the rights of parents in New York regarding masking in schools, arguing in a statement earlier this week that “parents should decide what is best for their children” instead of Hochul “doubling down” on mandates.
“Kathy Hochul is doubling down on her authoritarian mandates and continuing her attack on New York’s parents, students, and schools. The science is clear – children are the least vulnerable to COVID-19, but Governor Hochul refuses to lift mask mandates in schools despite multiple Democrat Governors across the Northeast dropping their mandates,” Stefanik wrote.
“When Kathy Hochul doubled down on her mask mandates on children after the New York Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional, she caused confusion across New York schools, because Governor Hochul would rather force the population least vulnerable to COVID-19 to continue masking than admit she was wrong. New York’s parents should decide what is best for their kids, not Governor Hochul,” she added.