Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.
Interviewer: Local parents recently held a rally questioning why at a time when COVID precautions are being eased, children as young as two years old are still being required to wear masks in school. Here to help discuss this legal issue and the rights of our viewers is Managing Partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti. So, Paul, a lot of questions regarding this. Now that most restrictions have lifted in New York State and even nationwide, why has the Governor not updated his mask policy with regard to children and schools?
Paul: Well, he did a mini update, he said, “Okay, you can play outside without masks,” but he just chose to do virtually nothing. He said, “CDC hasn’t changed their rules, I as the Governor want the school districts to make their decisions,” and he sort of punted. Only a few weeks left in the school year, probably just wanted to coast out.
Interviewer: So now, does the Governor have the authority to unilaterally implement this mask policy?
Paul: So he did, right? And he does. So the executive orders we saw were played out, very popular at first, very unpopular as they continued, but ultimately, you know, it’s a time for somebody in command to make a decision based on public health without having to go through the legislature and that painful process. There’s one requirement though, it has to be constitutional, and so far, that’s the argument that people are making, that it’s not, but no one has gone ahead and said that this does not qualify.
Interviewer: So, you know, we reached that 70% milestone of getting people vaccinated. What kind of recourse do parents of New York State have if they disagree with what the Governor is saying?
Paul: Sure. There’s been, you know, lawsuits, that it’s unconstitutional, but easiest place to do is to go to your school district. They’re the ones that are gonna make any of these decisions. CDC is probably gonna be updating their rules as the summer goes on and the numbers drop, but I think parents need to keep the pressure if they so choose to do so on their district.
Interviewer: So, ultimately, how do you see this playing out? Do you think we’ll see things sort of shift as we get ready to start up the fall school year?
Paul: You know, early on I thought, “They’re gonna start the school year in masks,” now I’m thinking, “This is gonna be an individual school district decision.” The CDC will update their rules as the summer goes on. It’s kind of a wait-and-see. My guess, they’re gonna start the school year with masks, and then progressively they will be gone.
Interviewer: All right. Paul, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions today. Of course, if you’d like more information on this topic or maybe you wanna recap on some of our other topics, head to our website cbs6albany.com.