ITHACA, N.Y.—As the country continues to attempt reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic, mask mandates have primarily gone by the wayside for people who have received their full vaccination dosage—fueled by the CDC’s recommendation that masks are unnecessary for people who have been fully vaccinated.

A major roadblock to that, of course, is that the vast majority of children are currently unable to get vaccinated. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved for children above the age of 12, but that population cannot receive either of the other two vaccines, by Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

Thus, a significant portion of the school-age population locally is unable to get vaccinated at all, meaning at least for now that the Ithaca City School District’s indoor mask mandate will remain in place, announced in a July 12 update to its mask policy, at least around children.

“We will continue mask-wearing indoors for all individuals, and optional mask-wearing outdoors,” the brief announcement states, without further detail. “In adult-only spaces (not in the presence of students), fully-vaccinated individuals have the option to unmask; unvaccinated individuals must remain masked.”

The Ithaca Voice has asked for more details from Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown about whether or not the policy will remain in place until more students are eligible to get the vaccine, or whether the district wants to hit a certain vaccination rate threshold overall before making a change. The district, in conjunction with the Tompkins County Health Department and Cayuga Health System, has held several vaccine clinics geared towards young people in an effort to vaccinate that population once Pfizer was approved for them in mid-May.

Brown has previously said that he expects all staff and students to be back in the building for classes this fall.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com