Parents weigh in on CDC’s recommendation for universal masking in schools

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Some parents are declaring their strong opposition to their children wearing masks when they go back to school this fall.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rolled out new COVID-19 recommendations that include a return to masks but local health and school leaders say it’s not clear that masks will end up being a *must* in the Rochester area.

“For me, the mask… it’s a no-go,” said Greece parent Stefanie Arnold.

When they came out Tuesday evening to talk about plans for the fall, parents in the Greece Central School District declared they do not want their kids going back to school in masks.

“They are not the spreaders,” said parent Ashley Bapst. “We’re going to use our kids as the victims to put a mask on them, a muzzle on them. And that’s just not OK.”

In its brand new guidance unveiled Tuesday, the CDC now says with the rise of the delta variant of COVID-19, it’s recommending that even fully vaccinated people start wearing masks again in indoor public places in areas with high rates of coronavirus transmission.

“There’s going to be people unhappy no matter what. We’ve been living there for a year and a half,” said Greece Superintendent Kathleen Graupman.

On Tuesday night, she discussed her back-to-school plans with the school board, as she had been scheduled to do, but declared she’d have to “ad-lib” some addenda after the announcement from the CDC only a few hours earlier. Graupman said she’s been expecting some kind of edict from the CDC but this is so brand new, she’s standing by to see the next level of guidance from the state, and from Monroe county, and hoping it comes soon so the district can reach out to the families it’s trying to keep safe.

“We’ve been just begging for information so we can get to our families timely,” she explained, “because if they don’t want it and they want to make a different decision, we want them to have time to do that.“

But Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Michael Mendoza said it’s too early to mandate new measures.

“Things are moving very quickly right now and it wouldn’t be wise to make a recommendation for school which is still a month away,” he said.

According to the CDC’s mapping, Monroe County, and most of New York are still only at “moderate” COVID-19 infection rates.

Gov. Cuomo says the state is reviewing the latest from the CDC and he has said the state is leaving more discretion up to local leaders, and Mendoza says that may be the best course.

“The particulars of the vaccine rates, the case rates, their buildings, all the details that make each school building, let alone its district different, I think we need to consider those,” he said.

In his statement Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo didn’t say how the state will follow up on the CDC’s guidance, but he did declare that New York has gone from one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the world to one of the lowest.