Monroe County purchases 500,000 KN-95s for students

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State’s mask mandate for businesses is over, but kids must still be masked in school for now.

Weeks ago, Monroe County ordered half a million youth KN-95 masks to distribute in local schools and despite the fact the school masking requirement may be lifted on March 7, the County still plans to pass them out.

“At this time, I certainly would recommend masks in schools for most people and there are a lot of families out there who have children who are medically vulnerable, have other health care concerns or just simply want to do everything they possibly can to keep their kids from getting COVID so, if that’s the case for these many families—we want to make sure they have access to high-quality masks,” said Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza.

Even if Gov. Kathy Hochul lifts the statewide mask requirement in schools on March 7, it’s likely she will give counties and school districts the option of creating their own masking metrics.

When asked by News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke how much of a say he’ll have once that happens, Dr. Mendoza said, “I don’t envision any different role than I’ve had all along. Most of what we’ve been implementing here in the county has been a result of the state requirements in the state guidelines but certainly, I want to continue to be a resource to the superintendents.”

So far, the only real change to school guidance this month has been in the Test to Stay program. The state is now allowing exposed kids to take a rapid test at least three times during their 5-day quarantine period in order to stay for class AND extra circular activities so long as the students don’t play against kids from other school districts during the quarantine period.

“I do want to provide every opportunity for kids to participate in interscholastic activities I think that’s the beauty of why many children enjoy extracurricular sports and activities,” Dr. Mendoza said, “right now it’s not yet in the cards but my hope is that very shortly will be able to offer that to.”

As News10NBC reported earlier this week, the demand for child vaccinations has slowed locally. Monroe County Executive Adam Bello tells News10NBC the County is trying to be more deliberate with where it offers clinics but they should be easy to find for parents who choose to vaccinate their kids.

It’s expected that a vaccine for kids ages 2-4 will be approved by early March. Those will likely be administered almost exclusively in a pediatric/family practice setting.

Watch the full press conference in the video in the player below: