A group of parents on Wednesday took to the steps of the historic Tweed Courthouse in New York City which houses the city’s Department of Education (DOE) headquarters, calling for continued mask mandates as the city begins lifting them almost two years after the coronavirus pandemic was first declared.
The group behind the “Masking for a Friend” rally, Parents for Responsive Equitable Safe Schools (PRESS-NYC), describes itself as a “parent collective” which aims to “build learning communities, write anti-racist curriculum” and “hold the DOE, the Mayor, and the education press accountable.”
Carrying signs supporting continued masking “for all,” the protesters called upon New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the DOE to continue to enforce a mask mandate requiring indoor masking for all students and staff in public K-12 schools for the over one million students in the city’s school system, which is the largest school district in the United States.
— Mandate Masks NY (@MandateMasksNY) March 3, 2022
To the tune of the classic Frère Jacques nursery rhyme, the group sang:
“Masks for loved ones, masks for friends, it’s not about you, also not hard to do. Just because we’re tired doesn’t mean it’s over, mandate masks, that’s our ask.”
“Masks for seniors, masks for kids, it’s not about you, also not like the flu. Just because we’re tired doesn’t mean it’s over, mandate masks, that’s our ask.”
In anticipation of the protest, the group called on supporters unable to attend to send letters, call the DOE, and post their support online to pressure the mayor to “continue masking in schools.”
In response to a viral clip depicting the group protesting and singing, many took to Twitter to ridicule the group.
“The masks aren’t working. We can still hear them,” wrote Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
The masks aren’t working.
We can still hear them. https://t.co/xeoyVbUXmY
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 3, 2022
“#DefundTheSchools,” wrote author Ann Coulter.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) March 3, 2022
“You know you can just keep it on right??” said Stefano Forte, a candidate for state Senate in Queens.
You know you can just keep it on right?? https://t.co/QIms2hCvLh
— Stefano Forte for State Senate (@stef4senate) March 3, 2022
“I’ve stood on these steps with hundred of parents demanding open schools & more gifted & talented programs,” wrote Maud Maron, a congressional candidate for NY’s 12th District.
“Same ppl who lost their minds over @GovRonDeSantis today,” wrote Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ spokesperson Christina Pushaw.
— Christina Pushaw 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) March 3, 2022
“Why aren’t they all 6ft apart?” asked news anchor Stephanie Hamill.
“This is so creepy it has to be a parody,” wrote conservative columnist Gavin Wax.
Others also took to Twitter to mock the protesters.
“So cringe,” wrote one user.
“I encourage all liberals to keep their masks on forever,” wrote another.
“Some people just don’t want to go back to pre-pandemic life,” wrote yet another user.
“I guess even when the Dark Ages were over, there was a segment of the population who liked it the way it was,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Congratulations on being some of the more idiotic people in NYC,” wrote another user.
“Please do yourself a favor and look at the cdc data and move on with your lives,” another Twitter user wrote.
“Cult like behavior,” wrote another.
Another user called out the hypocrisy of those “who believed the science that said wear a mask…but don’t believe the science that say u don’t need to wear a mask.”
“Criiiiiinge…masks don’t do what you want them to. Stop it already!” wrote one Twitter user.
“Covid Syndrome is real, and the worse of it is that they are affecting innocent children under their watch, they need mental assistance,” wrote another Twitter user.
“Covid Theatre at its finest,” wrote yet another.
“Even the mask-crazed CDC said masking outside was useless. They are deranged, and they still want to force their mental illness on others,” another user wrote.
“Bullies and Covid Induced Stockholm Syndrome victims protest to keep everyone wearing masks,” wrote another.
The protest comes as the Big Apple makes masks optional for public school children over five as infections slow nationwide.
Last week, President Biden’s coronavirus advisory team said mask mandates would remain in place despite revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) loosening requirements and Biden’s own words in his State of the Union address.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein