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The New York state government is instructing schools to ignore a court ruling that blocked a school mask mandate, claiming that the requirement remains in effect while they appeal.
The State Education Department told schools that they need to continue to follow the pandemic-inspired mandate because it is “automatically” put on hold as the appeals process plays out, but not everyone is going along with this.
NEW YORK JUDGE STRIKES DOWN HOCHUL’S MASK MANDATE, GOVERNOR VOWS FIGHT
“It is SED’s understanding that the Department of Health will appeal the Nassau County Supreme Court decision, which will result in an automatic stay that will unambiguously restore the mask rule until such time as an appellate court issues a further ruling. Therefore, schools must continue to follow the mask rule,” the Department said in a statement.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., blasted Gov. Kathy Hochul and her administration for the directive, asserting that it is based on false information.
“Kathy Hochul and her Department of Education are LYING to Superintendents causing unnecessary confusion,” Stefanik tweeted Tuesday morning. “There is no STAY on this court ruling. Kathy Hochul’s Authoritarian mandate was deemed ILLEGAL by NY Supreme Court. Masks are not mandatory for students as of RIGHT NOW!”
Nassau County Judge Thomas Rademaker ruled Monday that the state’s executive branch does not have the authority to issue a mask mandate now that emergency powers once wielded by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been curbed. Such a mandate would have to come in the form of a law passed by the legislature, he said.
According to appellate attorney Charles Holster, who practices in Nassau County, state rules say that generally a court issues an order to grant a stay, but in some cases it is automatic, such as when the state government files a notice of appeal. New York Attorney General Letitia James said Tuesday morning that her office was appealing the decision.
Holster pointed out, however, that such an automatic stay “merely restrains enforcement” of an order, and that because the order did not tell the state to do anything but rather blocked the mandate, the state would need to ask the Appellate Division to vacate the lower court’s order.
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The state made such a request and a hearing was held Tuesday afternoon, where an appellate court indicated a decision would come later in the day or Wednesday.
Fox News’ Tamara Gitt contributed to this report.