By Steve Rhoades (CNN) — A photo of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo posing for a photo in a maskless T-shirt at a Broadway production Tuesday in protest of the school district’s plan to force children to wear “safety goggles” masks has sparked criticism from some residents and even calls for his resignation.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come under fire for posing in a T-shirt without a mask at a Broadway performance Tuesday in protest of the school district’s plan to force children to wear safety goggles.
“Gov. Cuomo’s booking at The Book of Mormon doesn’t give New York State the right to prevent parents from sending their children to school in face masks,” the public advocate’s office said in a statement.
The statement also noted that the state has not imposed the same regulations on county or city public schools.
The school district says it has been required to comply with a new state law requiring schools to use “safety goggles,” which make it difficult for children to breathe. It also says masks don’t protect students from chemical attacks and dust storms like dust storms are currently plaguing eastern states.
It also estimates wearing the masks, which are often lacking in emergency situations, would cost the district $180,000.
While the district cannot impose uniforms on children, it says it is challenging the religious restrictions of some children by not allowing masks.
Governor Cuomo, who is a frequent critic of the school district, took to Twitter to offer his take on the situation.
“Children’s safety is important to all of us and we will always protect it,” Cuomo wrote. “I don’t believe in requiring safety goggles for children, just like I don’t believe in mandating T-shirts and shoes for New York public school kids.”
The Conservative Party of New York also weighed in, according to CNN affiliate WCBS, calling for Cuomo to step down from his position because of his strong support for school safety measures.
“It just seems like what he’s doing here is what’s wrong with New York today,” New York Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long told WCBS. “He’s running around New York, overperforming on Facebook, encouraging people to wear masks. Why can’t we just have the facilities to provide these for our students?”
On Tuesday, some legislators introduced a bill to overturn the new safety mandate, WCBS reported.
Cuomo also fired off several Tweets in support of the teens challenging the new law.
“Sen. Flanagan is now filing legislation to repeal the religious exemptions from the new school mask law,” Cuomo wrote, referencing New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “This decision will ensure all students are safe and secure in school. School should be an escape from the fear of the outside world.”
“Kudos to Councilmember Rescigna for making her constituents’ safety a priority,” he added. “Mayor de Blasio can tell me how we’re going to keep students safe in school with masks on.”
Cuomo said the same went for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
“The new school mask law is keeping middle & high school students safe & students should not be forced to cover their faces in school,” he added.
When contacted by CNN, Flanagan’s office deferred comment to Rep. Rob Nielson, a Republican from New Hartford, who confirmed the letter was sent.
“Heastie and Nielson asked Flanagan for help and he is helping,” Nielson said.
Nielson said while he couldn’t speak to the specifics of the legislation in its current form, he had received a letter from Flanagan pointing to the controversial mandate and the need to strike down the new law.
“The New York State law prohibiting masks in schools is contrary to established common sense, the Constitution, and not only the separation of church and state, but the values of the people of New York,” Flanagan wrote in the letter.
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