Though the city already mandated masks be worn by everyone inside public school buildings, the order has officially extended to non-public and charter schools across the city.

The New York City Board of Health passed a measure extending the order for total mask compliance at every school, following a state order in November that cleared localities to apply mask mandates to non-public schools. The vote was 8 of 9 approving the measure; Dr. Mitchell Katz, head of Health and Hospitals, was not present.

"Prior to this order, in New York City, we could not enforce the mask mandate in schools," Dr. Hillary Kunins, executive deputy commissioner for the city Health Department, said. Kunins presented the order in a slideshow presentation ahead of the vote Friday morning. "This created a missed opportunity to strengthen safety in schools and reduce transmission."

Under the updated order, students and faculty must wear masks every time they're in schools, and can only take them down if eating in a socially distant manner. Young children who are developmentally disabled or have medical conditions are exempt from the order, according to Kunins.

In addition to mask wearing, students and staffers must also maintain six feet of distance inside schools.

Before, health inspectors found schools did not always enforce mask wearing, instead installing dividers on classroom desks, she explained.

"We are optimistic that the order allows us both to give a clear message and to enforce where appropriate," Kunins said.

While schools will be required to coordinate with the city's Health Department and the Test & Trace Corps. to identify and isolate students and staffers with COVID-19 symptoms, there is no requirement for schools to create a randomized testing program similar to one implemented at public schools. Schools are also required to close school buildings if there is more than one confirmed case of COVID-19 inside schools.

The Office of Special Enforcement will rely on 311 complaints to inspect which schools are non-compliant. Violations will be issued to non-compliant schools. But the city has not always followed up on school-related 311 complaints in a timely manner. In October, as parts of Brooklyn and Queens saw schools closed after being designated a red or orange zone, New Yorkers reported schools were opened in those neighborhoods, namely yeshivas.

A spokesperson for the Health Department did not respond to a request for comment.

In a presentation before the vote, the Health Department said that schools across the city were already made aware that an order would come down and to be prepared for when it takes effect. While Catholic schools have already applied similar mask-wearing and social dstancing guidelines, it's unclear whether yeshivas have adhered to the order.

The order comes as COVID-19 positivity rates climb across New York City, with the seven-day average now at 5.32%. Despite the increase, schools across the city remain open, as health experts contend that public schools have proven to be safe across the city with applied COVID-19 guidelines. Further, the CDC has said that schools should be the last settings to close and the first to reopen.