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A group of New York City parents on Monday announced an imminent lawsuit against Mayor Eric Adams over his continuing mask mandates for children 4 and under in schools.
The news came at a rally outside City Hall protesting face coverings for young children after the mayor lifted school mask mandates for K-12 students. Officials said they kept the restrictions in place for younger kids because they aren’t eligible for vaccines.
But parents countered that the tots aren’t at risk of serious harm from COVID-19 infection.
“Once you start looking at these regulations that the Department of Health has imposed on our kids, you realize not only are they anti-child, not only are they anti-science, not only are they anti-parent, but they’re unlawful,” said attorney and public school parent Michael Chessa.
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He said he is helping to bring the suit this week in Manhattan Supreme Court that will ask for an immediate order barring the city from enforcing the masking of toddlers in school.
In addition, Chessa said the suit will argue that the mandate should not have been enacted through the Department of Health but should have been voted on by the state legislature and called the bypassing of this process “unconstitutional.”
Chessa has a 15-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 2-year-old in public school. “We are not anti-mask, we are pro-choice,” he said. “We want the parents to finally choose what’s best for our children,” he added, eliciting applause from the crowd of about 100 people, including more than a dozen children.
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City parent Daniela Jampel, who helped organize the rally, said children 2 to 4 years old have the exact same risk of hospitalization as children 5 and older, who no longer have to wear a mask. “I do not need a study to tell me that masking small children for over two years is going to harm them,” she said.
Another parent, Megan Martin, who is an anesthesiologist with a degree in public health, said the policy contradicts the science.
“My 4-year-old daughter’s face remains covered, not seeing the smiles of her friends or teachers,” she said. “Continuing to mask 2 to 4-year-olds is unnecessary, and worse, does real harm to their educational and social growth.”
Parent activist and congressional candidate Maud Maron, who pushed for schools to reopen and has opposed mask mandates, called on the mayor to step in.
“No parent should have to fight this hard to get normalcy for their children,” she said. “I think Mayor Adams is trying to do the right thing on a lot of fronts, and we are here to say to him, the right thing is to unmask our toddlers because the science supports it.”
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Adams was interviewed on NY1 Monday morning and told parents to trust him. He said we are unmasking K-12 public school children, but the younger kids are completely unvaccinated, and there is a higher hospitalization rate for them than other youth age groups.
“We are going to get there,” he said. “We will lose the masks. We’re going to see if there’s any spike in K-12, then we’ll come back for the babies.”