Many Albuquerque students have class maskless for the first time since the pandemic started

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Many Albuquerque students were maskless at school Friday for the first time since the pandemic started

Students told KOB 4 that almost all of their classmates went without masks during the day. However, the vast majority of people KOB 4 spoke with felt that children should still be wearing masks in class.

Medical experts continue to say that masks work, including Dr. Alex Cvijanovich, president of the New Mexico Pediatric Society. She said it’s true that children often don’t have severe symptoms, but they can still pass COVID-19 to others.

"I think it’s a bit early from a public health standpoint to get rid of masks in schools," Cvijanovich said. "I know that we’re all eager to get rid of masks. Everybody is excited not to wear masks indoors. I totally understand that. But I think that we know that the pandemic is not over yet."

The governor and her cabinet members said Thursday that they understand the science around masks, and they lifted the mandate due to the drop in COVID hospitalizations and the increase in treatment options.

The governor’s office sent KOB 4 this comment in response to our interviews with families:

"We know that masks prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we fully support New Mexicans who choose to wear a mask…However, it is important to us that school districts are empowered to make decisions based on the needs of their students, parents, staff, teachers and communities."

An Albuquerque Public Schools official said the district will work with any families that would like their children to have extra precautions – like more social distancing in the classroom.

As for Santa Fe Public Schools, the school board there has an online survey, asking parents to take part in it by noon Sunday. The school board plans to announce whether or not it is lifting the mask requirement on Monday. The City of Santa Fe lifted its mask mandate Friday.