NY school mask mandate ends

On Wednesday, New York took another step towards emerging from the pandemic when it lifted its school mask mandate.

For six-year-old Kellan Tranchina, it was a joyous occasion as he had been waiting for the day he could show off his smile and see the smiles on his friends' and teachers' faces as well. 

"It’s the best day of my life," he said. 

For students like Kellan who started kindergarten in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Wednesday was their first time at school without a mask.

"I haven’t seen my teacher at all this year," said one student. "I’m excited to see her smile."

Over the weekend, Governor Kathy Hochul gave school districts across New York the choice to determine their own mask policies. 

Massapequa protested the mandate throughout the pandemic, even taking the state to court. And today the majority of students and staff left their masks at home. 

And many younger students - not eligible to get vaccinated went to school without a mask. 

"For the children not to see their friends' faces and the teachers' faces was difficult," said Mark Transport, owner and director of Crestwood Country Day Camp and School. "It’s hard for education, communication and general sense of well-being."

But not everyone was ready.

Get breaking news alerts in the free FOX5NY News app!  |  Sign up for FOX 5 email newsletters

"Our school district just had February break for a week, people were traveling, I don’t think it’s the right time," said parent Barbara Krilov. 

Superintendent Hank Grishman of the Jericho School District agrees. 

"I would’ve preferred to keep masking in place for another couple of weeks," Grishman said. "Maybe through the rest of the cold weather."

As for doctors, many are hopeful this will be a turning point, especially with an overall drop recently in COVID-19 infections. 

"There will be some children who will choose to stay in masks for their own personal medical reasons and that’s ok, other children should understand that but I think overall most children will be fine without masks," said Dr. Kerry Fierstein with Allied Physicians Group.