Nassau County Supreme Court Rejects Mask Mandate Law

The Tide Staff

As of late Monday night,  Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rademaker rejected the statewide mandate made by Governor Kathy Hochul “ordering students and staff in schools to wear masks indoors” as unconstitutional and unenforceable. The original mask mandate, put in place by Hochul, was made to ensure the public’s safety with COVID cases rising. “My responsibility as Governor is to protect New Yorkers throughout this public health crisis, and these measures help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Hochul. 

The State Department of Education made a statement that schools must enforce the mask mandate and that the “health department will appeal the ruling, meaning it will be automatically suspended.” Hampton Bays High School has said they will be following the mask mandate just as it was previously regardless of what other sources say, according to the morning announcements from Principal Christopher Richardt. Westhampton School District has also stated  “NYSED has directed all schools to continue following the mask requirement. Until directed otherwise, all students and staff are required to wear masks in our schools.” 

There have been multiple arguments both in support and opposition to this ruling in Nassau County. This debate against the mask mandate started with some people saying that it should be a choice to wear a mask and shouldn’t be forced. One who was against the mask mandate was Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County Executive, who said “Nassau County has a population of 1.5 million people. Over 90% of our adult population is vaccinated. There is no crisis in our hospitals. We have plenty of hospital bed capacity. We have plenty of capacity in our ICU units. I won’t enforce the mask mandate because it’s not necessary.” 

Others argued that this was for the safety of the public and to protect not oneself but others as well from COVID. Hochul, the Governor who started this mandate doesn’t agree with Blakeman’s point of view and said local governments don’t have the “legal authority to override state laws regarding education– a position that was backed by groups, including the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association.” She has also threatened to withhold state education department funds from districts that don’t follow the mask mandate. 

Overnight, this ruling has made the discussion of the mask mandate even more controversial and more information is yet to come later in regards to the rejection of the statewide mask mandate.