Updated: June 03, 2021 11:14 PM
Created: June 03, 2021 10:54 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt Thursday reached out to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, urging him to relax mask mandates that are still in place for schools.
Ortt said districts should have the power to decide if masking their students is still necessary.
Senator Ortt is referring to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) mandate which was renewed back in April. Children and staff are still required to wear a mask while on school property.
As the weather gets warmer, and temperatures near the 90s, Ortt would like to see school students given a pass from wearing their masks in classrooms.
"Whether they're in gym, or in the cafeteria, or in their class—you know it's going to be hot, and I just think for a lot of kids it's just going to be that much more uncomfortable, and might also impact their focus on what they should be focusing on which is their school work," Ortt said.
He went on to say many of these schools don't have air conditioning. News10NBC reached out to several local school districts but hasn't heard back.
"Most of the school districts, you know, if we're being honest, I think through this whole pandemic they've been hesitant to get too far in front of the Governor, the Department of Health because obviously, they're concerned about liability and all of that," Ortt said.
News10NBC talked to a few people about Ortt's letter to the Governor. Everyone said the mandate should remain in place.
"I think that the kids should still wear their masks because they're not vaccinated, and it's really important since they're not really allowed to get their vaccines yet," said Rochester resident Martha Sorak.
Penfield resident Jonathan Sardella agreed.
"I think in the tight constraint of a school with poor air circulation there's too much of the potential for the spread of COVID-19 in this situation, and I think everybody in school should be wearing mask, period," Sardella said.
Ortt says teachers are already vaccinated, and his request is for just the last couple of weeks of the school year.
"We know that there's very little transmission this entire time in schools. There's been very little evidence to show a lot of transmission," Ortt said.
Although he says most teachers and parents he's talked to support his request, he's just waiting to hear from Cuomo or the NYSDOH.
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