Shoreham-Wading River Schools Files Brief Backing Mask Mandate Repeal Lawsuit

Despite mask mandate Riverhead Central School District students were all smiles on the first day of school, even behind their masks.
Students were all smiles on the first day of school, even behind their masks.
Courtesy Riverhead Central School District

The Shoreham-Wading River School District was among eight school districts on Long Island to file court papers supporting a lawsuit that aims to repeal the New York State mask mandate, records show.

The East End school district joined what’s known as an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the case. The Appellate Division, Second Department in Brooklyn granted on January 31 a motion that keeps the school and public mask mandate in effect until March 2, when judges are scheduled to hear arguments on the legality of the state order meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 after after a Nassau County court judge struck down the statewide rules on January 25.

The state’s arguments “do not contain any consideration regarding the negative impact daily mask wearing has on a child’s educational, social, emotional and physical development,” Nicholas Rigano, a Melville-based attorney representing the schools in the case, wrote in the brief. “This is an enormous oversight that the (schools) fear will have irreparable detrimental impacts on a generation.”

The Nassau ruling was the result of a lawsuit brought by members of a group called Mandate for Freedom that is challenging the mask mandates. Nassau Judge Thomas Rademaker had ruled that Gov. Kathy Hochul overstepped her authority in imposing a rule that needed to have been passed by the state legislature.

“Wearing a mask saves lives,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is appealing the decision overturning the rule.

Some Twin Forks area schools had declared masks optional for a day after ruling and before the decision was stayed pending the state’s appeal. Hochul had vowed to fight back and cheered the extension of the stay.

“Mask regulations keep our schools and businesses safe and open, protect vulnerable New Yorkers, and are critical tools as we work to get through this winter surge,” Hochul said.

The school mask mandate was issued on Hochul’s first day in office in August, days before the fall semester started, and the rule requiring masks in public places was issued in December. The governor has since issued extensions of the public mask rule.


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