New York State is stepping back from requiring young children in pre-school and camps to wear masks.

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The mask-wearing directive included in the guidance for opening summer programs and daycare last week drew backlash from providers, parents and politicians who questioned why toddlers who didn’t have to wear masks during the height of the pandemic last year would now be required to.

May 24, the Office of Children and Family Services said providers could continue the protocols they’ve been following so far.

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In a statement from the OCFS and Health Department officials said: “Both agencies understand how difficult it is to require the youngest children to wear masks, and have jointly agreed to revise guidance allowing child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic by encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks, effective immediately.” “We strongly encourage any remaining child care staff who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to prevent the spread of COVID.” 

The reopening of child care is seen as largely needed in order for parents to return to work at businesses that continue to reopen following the massive shut-down at the start of the pandemic.

New York State Senator Fred Akshar of Binghamton applauded the roll-back.  The Republican thanked parents and childcare providers who signed petitions and made calls to object to the directive.

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