Schools chancellor David C. Banks announced beginning Feb. 28, masks and face coverings will not be required outside on school grounds.

During the statement on Feb. 25, the chancellor informed New Yorkers that while the mask mandate has been altered, face coverings are still required for students, faculty,  staff and visitors while indoors at school.

“Throughout the pandemic, our schools have remained some of the safest spaces for our students and staff, thanks to our gold standard health and safety protocol,” said Chancellor Banks. “I am so pleased that we are able to make this exciting announcement and safely allow students and staff to remove their masks when outdoors at NYC public schools.”

 The health and safety of school children and school staff still remain a top priority for the Department of Education (DOE), and the decision to partially lift the mandate remains in line with the NYC DOE’s “Stay Safe, Stay Open” policy adopted quickly after Banks took office at the beginning of this year.

The DOE attributed the drastic decline in cases to their “Stay Safe, Stay Open” initiative, saying its implementation saw COVID-19 cases drop by 99%, while also bringing in-school positivity rates down to below 1% – numbers that are far below the current citywide average. 

The DOE and Chancellor Banks will continue to work in tandem with NYC Health + Hospitals as well as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to continually monitor cases, vaccination rates and other data points to assess the success of the mask mandate lift before making any further changes or evaluations.

The DOE also stated that they would maintain the strict COVID protocols recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as well as ensure schools are provided with the materials needed to combat infection including increased ventilation, social distancing when possible, a daily screener to make sure those with symptoms do not come to school and the continued distribution of test kits.