Gov. Hochul thanked New Yorkers while issuing a surprising new COVID rule.

When Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the indoor mask mandate for New York businesses she said she would wait until March to decide on masks in schools. Hochul wanted to wait until many students returned from February break.

Last week when some politicians called for her to lift the mandate she said her administration would wait until March 4 to monitor scientific data. She added there wasn't "a magic number" that would prompt her to lift the mandate because determining metrics can be extremely difficult because of how quickly COVID numbers can and have changed.

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Late last week she reiterated her stance on ending a mandate requiring students to wear masks in schools. The governor said she'll assess the data in early March before making a decision.

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On Sunday, Hochul had a somewhat shocking change of heart. During a press conference from Albany, she lifted the school mask mandate.

"Our top priority has always been keeping kids in school and making sure our classrooms are safe," Hochul said. Now, with COVID cases declining by 98% since the Omicron peak and updated CDC guidance in place, we will lift the statewide school mask requirement this coming Wednesday."

Governor Hochul Holds COVID Briefing and Makes an Announcement with the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Liberty
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The statewide mask requirement will be lifted in New York schools effective Wednesday, March 2.

This ruling includes children two years and older in childcare facilities.

"While the statewide mask requirement in schools will no longer be in effect, we're still taking precautions," she added. "New York will distribute more than 20 million tests to school districts across the state. Masks will still be required in certain settings, like healthcare facilities."

Counties and cities may still require masks in schools, Hochul notes.

Parents and guardians may also choose to send children to school wearing masks.

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"I want to extend my gratitude to New Yorkers for their hard work to keep us all safe. It wasn't always easy, but students, educators and parents stepped up to fight this pandemic. We've reached this exciting milestone because of your hard work. Thank you," Hochul concluded.