Masks aren’t required at New York City schools anymore except for the youngest students. But city health and education officials are now asking all students and staff to wear one inside their schools as the city’s risk level for COVID-19 was upgraded from medium to high by health officials Tuesday.

“We urge you to take the following proven precautions to protect your family and our communities: wear a mask. We recommend that everyone age 2 and older wear a well-fitting mask in all public indoor settings, including at school and early childhood education programs, even if not required,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan and Schools Chancellor David Banks in a letter sent to families Tuesday.

The letter also urged eligible people to get their vaccines and boosters, to stay home when they are sick, to get tested if experiencing COVID symptoms, to avoid crowds and large gatherings and to increase ventilation in rooms.

The school system dropped mask mandates for students in grades K-12 in March. But the mask mandate for 3K and pre-K students has stayed in place because of the age restriction on the COVID vaccine, despite efforts by groups of parents trying to force the city to drop the mandate. 

Like the rest of the city, COVID rates in schools are rising. On Monday, there were 2,381 new reported cases among students and 913 cases among staff, according to the DOE.

The Department of Education referred all other inquiries to the city Department of Health Tuesday. The DOH said Tuesday there were no immediate plans to reinstate a mask mandate for the school system.

Vasan issued an advisory for New Yorkers on Monday, with a “strong recommendation” for people to wear high-quality masks in public settings indoors and outdoors, but did not reinstate the mask mandate.

On Tuesday, the federal Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for children ages 5 to 11 to receive the Pfizer booster shot five months after a completed vaccination series. Children under 5 years old remain ineligible to receive any vaccination.