ALBANY — Despite a court ruling that said Gov. Kathy Hochul exceeded her authority by implementing a universal mask mandate, students will still have to mask up to attend class in New York schools.
State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa said in a statement: “It is SED’s understanding that the Department of Health will appeal the Nassau County Supreme Court decision, which will result in an automatic stay that will unambiguously restore the mask rule until such time as an appellate court issues a further ruling. Therefore, schools must continue to follow the mask rule.”
However, a judge will have to rule on whether or not to grant the stay and keep the mandate in place while the appeal works its way through the system.
On Monday, the court said the mandate would have been within the rule of law if it was enacted by the Legislature as a whole or if the governor maintained the same emergency powers former Gov. Andrew Cuomo had during the early days of the pandemic.
Hochul implemented the mask mandate for all public indoor places on Dec. 10, 2021 through Jan. 15 when she extended it until at least the end of January. It was in response to a spike in new cases blamed largely on the omicron variant, a more contagious strain of COVID-19 but one that does not present symptoms as serious as the delta variant or the initial coronavirus that took hold in March, 2020.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Letitia James filed an appeal and with that came a stay of the ruling issued by state Supreme Court Judge Tomas Rademaker.
In a statement on the district website, North Colonie Superintendent Joseph Corr wrote: “The district is aware of the court ruling pertaining to the mask mandate. Until we are told differently in writing by either NYSED, NYSDOH or the governor’s office, we will stay the course.”
“We continue to employ the tiered mitigation efforts we have taken to keep our schools open and students and staff safe,” the statement continued. “We ask parents, students, and staff to be patient and comply accordingly, and not engage in any actions or activities that cause disruption of the education process.”
A number of counties and businesses have refused to enforce the mandate since it was implemented.