Covid News: Puerto Rico drops mask mandate

Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

For the first time in two years, New York City students were allowed to attend public school without masks on Monday, but some said they would keep them on.

In elementary and high schools, students and parents expressed concern that it was too soon, despite Mayor Eric Adams’ statements that the city has pushed back the Omicron variant of the virus.

“We did our job as New Yorkers, and now we’re winning,” Mr. Adams said in a televised interview Monday on NY1. “Covid no longer controls our lives. We are masters of our lives. »

But only 52% of K-12 public school students citywide are fully immunized, according to city data, and 59% of students have received at least one dose. The city’s tally also shows that the doses weren’t evenly distributed.

At Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan, where 93% of students are vaccinated, one of the highest rates in the city, more than half a dozen students said before the start of the school day that they would keep their masks in place. A few said they plan to wear masks indefinitely.

“There really is no cure for Covid at this point,” said Ella Chan, 17, a junior at Stuyvesant, before the 8 a.m. bell. “There is too much uncertainty for me.”

Eden Di Lella, 15, in second year, said: “I also just asked around, I’m just curious who really keeps the masks on, and it’s just been an overwhelming number of yeses, compared to take it off.” She noted, however, that others had mentioned exceptions for choir or gym class.

Max Shimbo, 14, was one of the few not wearing a mask. “I trust the people in the mayor’s office,” he said of how he came to his decision. “They know how many cases we’re getting and how many people are vaccinated, so I’m confident they made the right call.”

In Staten Island, 5-year-old Richard Kreie, a kindergartener, was so relieved that the mask’s term ended that on Friday after school, he stomped on his own and threw it away. Monday morning, before going to the PS 1 school in the Tottenville district, where 10% of students are vaccinated, he lowered his lower lip to show why. One of his bottom teeth had just fallen out, and he couldn’t wait to go all out with the new gap in his smile. “I love it,” he said. “It’s funny.”

His mother, Danielle Imparato, said she was happy with the end of the mandate. “It was good at first,” she said. “But it’s high time now.”

Emma Billera, 7, a second year student at PS 1, said taking off her mask made her ‘happy so you can breathe’.

Her mother, Gabby Billera, said she was tired of the mask mandate. “We followed the rules, but nobody knew it would take this long,” she said.

But some older students said they worried the mandate was lifted too soon.

“I think it’s stupid, because Covid is still here, and just two months ago the cases just popped up out of nowhere,” said Alana Rivers, a 15-year-old freshman at Boys High School. and girls from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Brooklyn, where 46% of students are vaccinated. “So I think if you take the masks off it’s going to make it worse.”

She said she still plans to wear a mask. “I feel nervous because a lot of people are going to be exposed to Covid outside of school and now in school,” she said.

Adel Hassan contributed report.