Lt. Gov. Hochul: New York State Health Department has authority to issue mask mandate in schools

QUEENS, N.Y. (WHEC) — While touring a public school in New York City on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul discussed a heated topic: Mask mandates.

Hochul said the New York State Department of Health now has the authority to issue mask mandates in schools.

"Mask mandates is something the department of health has the authority to call for. They have that authority now and I’ll assess whether or not we’ll know that’s been called for. I believe that we will need mask mandates for children to go back to schools and that will have to be universal, it will be statewide," Hochul said.

Hochul says that nearly 100% of unions and representatives from dozens of stakeholders that she spoke to yesterday, supported the call for a statewide mandate.

She also mentioned that local school boards and superintendents are looking to the state for leadership.

However, Hochul did not specify a time on when the mask mandate would eventually be lifted, but that it would be based on the infection rate and circumstances in an individual area.

This news comes after numerous school board meetings across Monroe County, including Webster and Brockport got heated as parents and administrators discussed masking policies for the upcoming school year.