Siena Poll: Parents with kids in school ‘nearly equally divided on masks’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We know the issue of masks in school is controversial, but a poll released Tuesday by Siena College in Albany shows just how difficult it will be for school superintendents and principals if and when the state drops the mandate.

The state mask rule is in place until at least March 7.

The pollster said when they asked about the school mask mandate, the number of parents who said it should have been gone long ago and the number of parents who say it should stay until March 7 is almost equal.

"For voters who have children under 18 in their house, very closely divided," Steve Greenberg said.

Greenberg is the pollster for the Siena College Research Institute. Here’s the difference between parents with school-age children at home: 46% of them say let’s wait for the COVID test results after kids return from break and 40% said the mask rule should have been gone already.

"So if you’re a local school official or school superintendent or school board member I think what this tells you is you are in for a whole world, a whole lot of trouble because your constituency, the parents of your kids, they are nearly equally divided on masks, whether to continue the mandate next week or not," Greenberg said.

Overall, Greenberg says most New Yorkers—58%—want the school mask mandate to stay until at least March 7 but the survey shows that’s driven by people who don’t have children in school.

Tuesday, Republicans in the Monroe County Legislature released a statement asking Gov. Kathy Hochul to end the school mask mandate now or give the choice to counties.

"This requests a return to local control of the decision to mask school children. it’s really that simple," George Hebert (R, 15) said.

Hebert represents Penfield and Webster in the county legislature.

Brean: "According to that poll, the majority of New Yorkers would disagree with the sentiment in your letter."

Hebert: "Understood and they’re certainly welcome to disagree if they like. We the Republicans tend to believe that local government tends to make better decisions."

Here’s the state’s plan right now: The student come back to school next week. The state wants them to take two rapid tests. Then, the state will look at the number of positive cases and then decide if the mandate ends on March 7 or not.