The Editorial Board: With Covid cases down, school mask rule set to end as soon as safety permits | Editorial

Political pressure intensifies

State Senate Republicans tried to attach an amendment to an education bill last Monday that would have repealed the mask mandate for schools. No Democrat backed the amendment, which failed, but concern about ending school masking isn’t just coming from the minority party.

When 51 Western New York school superintendents signed recent letters calling on Hochul to provide clear guidance on how and when the mask mandate will end, Congresswoman Monica P. Wallace, D-Cheektowaga , echoed their sentiments.

“We need public health advice that balances the risk of infection with the need to maintain the mental health and well-being of our children,” Wallace wrote in letters to Hochul and the health commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett.

Indeed, children’s mental health has become a “national emergency,” according to a statement released in October 2021 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association. The organizations statement says the pandemic has exacerbated trends that were notable before 2020.

Michael Cornell, superintendent of schools in Hamburg, said his district hired two additional psychiatrists this year to handle increased demand for mental health services. Cornell thinks easing mask mandates would give children a sign that normalcy will return to their lives.

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