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Cuomo formally lifts state of emergency, but some rules remain

New York is sticking with CDC guidelines; some states have not. A Buffalo-area state senator predicts rules will soon relax further, including those for schools.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday formally lifted the order he issued in March of last year, declaring a "state of emergency" in New York due to COVID-19.

He also lifted the last vestiges of quarantine requirements for visitors to New York from other countries.

But that doesn't mean all the rules the state issued during the pandemic are gone.

The state is still imposing numerous rules on larger indoor event venues, public transit, homeless shelters, prisons, nursing homes and health care settings, and of particular interest, schools.

In these areas, the state will continue to closely adhere to guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while some other states have chosen not to in many areas, including schools.

"There is some confusion on schools," said NYS Senator Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo). "Part of that confusion is because there's recommendations from from the CDC that were in effect as the school year came to an end."

Even though more than 70% of eligible New Yorkers have been vaccinated, and more than 99% of tests recently administered statewide are turning up negative for COVID, schools in New York are now entering the summer school season operating under the same state restrictions they've been under, despite proof that schools were among the least places of concern for transmission. This includes mandatory mask-wearing.

Indeed, a memo from the NYS Senate Majority's legal office, shared with 2 On Your Side by Ryan's Chief of Staff Cody Meyers, advises that, "Schools must still adhere to CDC guidelines, last updated on May 15, including guidance related to masks and social distancing. which is expected to be updated by the CDC in the near future.

"The expiration of the state of emergency will mean that schools will no longer have to report their daily infection numbers. The Department of Health has not indicated whether this guidance will apply to summer programs."

The memo further notes that, "An update is to come, which will allow schools to plan for the 2021-2022 school year."

"It's my hope that the CDC and New York State's Department of Education all catch up on what is rapidly changing," Ryan said. "Not long ago Erie County had a high COVID rate. We don't anymore ... that changed quickly, so there will be more quick changes as long as we stay on this trajectory."

Ryan added: "There's a lot of room between now and September and as long as New York State, Erie County, and the nation keeps getting healthier it's my prediction that by September there will be no rules about school. We will be able to re-enter schools just like any other year."