Nassau Community College reversed course and dropped a mask mandate policy Friday after discussions with Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, officials said.
The college, which has almost 14,000 students, announced that face coverings would be required beginning Monday regardless of vaccination status because of rising levels of COVID-19 in the county. But hours later officials reversed their decision and instead issued a recommendation.
“The college recommends that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask while indoors on campus,” the college website reads. “CDC states that wearing a mask can help prevent severe illnesses and reduce the spread of respiratory viruses including the flu, [respiratory syncytial virus] and COVID.”
The abrupt change came after meetings between the college president and Blakeman, according to a statement from the Nassau executive.
“After strong and evidence-based discussions with the College President, Nassau Community College is withdrawing their premature decision to mandate masks,” said Blakeman. “At this time we are monitoring the spike in COVID diagnoses and have, importantly, not seen a spike in hospitalizations. As we have seen in the past, there is very little value in mandating masks to prevent the spread of COVID.”
New York Times COVID-19 data shows Nassau’s seven-day average of new cases was 553 Dec. 12 — an increase of nearly 59% from 348 on Nov. 12.
State officials said Long Island had the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and new infections in the state last week. They warned that the increase, combined with current influenza and respiratory syncytial virus outbreaks, could make for a challenging winter.
“We are surrounded by people who have COVID,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “Because so many have been vaccinated, even more should be getting the booster. The effect is not as dire but can still spread to people in a vulnerable situation.”
Hochul ended the state mask requirement in schools in March. She made this decision after consulting with health and education experts, as well as parents, teachers and school administrators and after analyzing several key COVID-19 data trends.