What Are Your Rights: Requiring Masks In Class After NY State Supreme Court Strikes Down Rule

Recorded on February 23, 2022

Attorney Cassandra Kazukenus of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on CBS6 to help explain why the mask mandate for New York schools is still in effect after it was challenged and overturned in the State Supreme Court.

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Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Here at CBS 6, we’ve heard from viewers with differing opinions about whether or not masks should still be required in schools. I asked Attorney Cassandra Kazukenus, from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, why it’s still in effect since it was struck down in the state supreme court. Hello, Cassandra. Given the mask mandate was challenged and overturned in the Supreme Court, why is it still in place?

Atty. Cassandra: Well, what happened is the state, through the Attorney General’s Office, filed an appeal. So, with the filing of the appeal, it put a stay on everything. In other words, everything’s kind of paused until the appellate division gets a chance to review everything and do their own analysis as to the legality and enforceability of the executive order associated with it.

Interviewer: And now, in the meantime, with businesses no longer required to enforce mask mandates, we’ve received a number of reports of students refusing to wear masks in school. Are school districts still required to enforce the mask mandate? And what are the potential consequences if a school refuses to do so?

Atty. Cassandra: Yeah, the school districts are still required to follow the state laws and the guidelines by the State Department of Education as well as, you know, to the extent the Federal Department of Education. And if they fail to do that, you know, the enforcement mechanisms and the issue that they can face is a lack of funding. Funding can be withheld, and obviously, funding is an important thing for our local school districts. So, that would be the biggest issue there.

Interviewer: Now, Cassandra, if students are refusing to wear masks, how much power or authority does the school district have to enforce that requirement? And what can they do?

Atty. Cassandra: I think it’s the same issue as school districts and their…their dress code policy, for instance, they have those policies in place, they have the ability to enforce them and whatever mechanism they deem appropriate, whether it’s they send them home from school that day, they send them home for remote learning, or, you know, if it continues to be a problem, kids can be expelled for certain things. I don’t know that anything’s going that far, for instance, but they definitely have the right to send them home or require them to wear the masks.

Interviewer: Cassandra, thank you so much for the time. We really appreciate it.

Atty. Cassandra: No problem.

Anchor: Well, if you have any questions or concerns with your personal rights or freedoms, send us your story ideas for us to investigate. You can read up on all of our past coverage online at cbs6albany.com.

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