ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul says getting students back in classrooms is a top priority.

She’s calling for a mask mandate for both public and private schools, and she wants teachers to face vaccine rules, as well.

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“We have to, first of all, have mandatory masks, which is something that is not universally popular, but I think it’s an important step toward getting safety in schools,” she told CBS This Morning.

COVID VACCINE

The governor said while she does not have the executive power to mandate vaccines for teachers, she is working with the education community to make it happen.

She also said her administration has allotted more than $580 million for an aggressive testing program for students and teachers.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, Massapequa mom Dana Durso is leading the charge against Hochul’s universal mask mandate for students and staff.

“I have to continue to fight, and I don’t think it’s going to work, but my only option is to pull my kids out of school,” Durso said.

“Home schooling?” McLogan asked.

“I’d have to home school,” Durso said.

Her district has been among the most vocal, demanding parental choice for masking their children in school, along with concise, consistent policies from Albany.

The superintendent says until definitive guidance is provided by the state, Massapequa will continue with its optional mask protocols endorsed by its Board of Education and the local community.

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Farmingdale mom Barbara Abboud hopes the mask directive will be defied.

“It’s absolutely government overreach. There is no state of emergency. There’s no executive powers. Our civil liberties and our rights are back in play,” Abboud said.

Most of Long Island’s 124 public school systems had already announced mask mandates. Among them is Jericho, which is first to go back, Thursday.

“Following science, following what happened in Jericho, the masks were our salvation in terms of kids not infecting other kids,” Jericho Schools Superintendent Henry Grishman said.

“I did a lot of remote learning this year, so I wasn’t in school a lot, but I have a bunch of friends that were in school this year, they chose to wear masks,” said 18-year-old Conor Queenan.

“I do believe the choice is best left to school districts and to parents. I do also know that our districts are very eager to get guidance from the state,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

“People should wear masks. This Delta thing is insane,” said Nassau County resident Owen Spanier.

At Glen Cove High School, parents and kids were on the receiving end of the PBA and county legislator’s school supply handouts – masks again.

“How do you feel about the masks in school this year?” McLogan asked.

“I don’t really care as long as it’s keeping me safe,” said 11-year-old Jen Lopez.

Now, many are waiting to hear about vaccinations for teachers and staff.

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On Monday, New York City announced it will require all teachers and staff to be vaccinated in the upcoming school year, and Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the Biden administration to speed up eligibility for children under 12 years old.

Jennifer McLogan