Did Kathy Hochul Go Maskless in a Classroom With Children?

A viral Facebook post shows New York Gov. Kathy Hochul unmasked in a classroom with masked children: 

The picture is real: Hochul posted it to her Facebook page on July 6 when, while still serving as lieutenant governor, she made a visit to the Bronx Community College Early Childhood Center to announce a $35 million expansion of QUALITYstarsNY, an educational program in New York that rates early childhood programs on a five-star scale and provides training and other resources to schools to improve their rating. Other images from the event show that Hochul and the other event speakers were unmasked at other points during the visit, with Hochul posting pictures of her talking to and playing with the students while not wearing a mask. 

By July 6 New York had lifted most of its indoor masking requirements for vaccinated individuals. However, the June 15 executive order from then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated that while masking and other COVID-19 health guidelines were then optional for most indoor settings, health guidelines “continue to be in effect for large-scale indoor event venues, pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings per CDC guidelines.” A week prior, Cuomo allowed schools to forgo outdoor masking, but said that “Guidance on mask use indoors remains in place.”

Local news reported the New York Department of Health issued new guidance for schools that allowed superintendents to revise their masking policies that day after Hochul’s visit.

The BCC Early Childhood Center runs a pre-K program that would fall under the guidelines laid out above. It also has after-school programs to provide childcare to kids ages 5 through 12 whose parents attended classes at the community college. It is unclear if Hochul’s visit was to a pre-K class or after-school program. After-school programs have separate guidance, under which vaccinated adults were not required, but were encouraged, to wear masks when with children who had to wear masks. Hochul was vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson shot in March 2021. 

Neither Hochul’s office nor BCC Early Childhood Center responded to requests for comment.

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