Hours after taking office, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state require masks to be worn in schools.
“Governor Hochul has directed the New York State Department of Health to institute a universal mask requirement in all schools, public and private, as determined necessary at the discretion of the Commissioner,” a statement from the governor’s office says.
Hochul, who took over for Andrew Cuomo following sexual misconduct allegations, said she will also pursue mandatory vaccinations for school employees or require weekly testing.
"As Governor, my priorities are now the priorities of the people of New York - and right now that means fighting the Delta variant," Hochul said.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said since early July, cases of COVID-19 in New York have risen “10-fold.”
“Based on incidence and prevalence, our findings demonstrate the necessity of layered prevention strategies, including this mask requirement,” he said.
Hochul's mask directive is in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.
"CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status," the CDC's website states.
The CDC notes that children under 12 are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., which is why it recommends masking as a prevention strategy.