A state appellate court judge this afternoon granted a temporary stay of yesterday’s court ruling invalidating the statewide indoor mask mandate ordered by the state health commissioner Dec. 10.

After a hearing this afternoon, Justice Robert Miller, an Appellate Division judge, granted a motion for stay filed by N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James. The ruling allows the mask mandate to temporarily remain in effect. The judge scheduled another hearing for Friday.

Nassau County State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Rademaker issued a decision yesterday holding that State Commissioner of Health Mary Bassett lacked legal authority to promulgate the mask mandate rule. See prior story. The attorney general immediately filed notice of appeal.

The State Education Department last night advised school districts to keep their mask mandates in place, pending a decision on whether the lower court’s ruling was stayed. The Riverhead school district followed suit, though some other districts informed families masks would be optional today.

Riverhead parents upset with the school district’s decision — and children who went to school without masks today being separated from other students — staged a protest demonstration outside the district office. See separate story.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who said at a briefing this afternoon the state 100% disagreed with Rademaker’s opinion, issued a statement this evening reaffirming the state’s position and praising the Appellate Division’s decision.

“As governor, my top priority is protecting the people of this state. These measures are critical tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, make schools and businesses safe, and save lives,” Hochul said in the statement. ” I commend the attorney general for her defense of the health and safety of New Yorkers, and applaud the Appellate Division, Second Department for siding with common sense and granting an interim stay to keep the state’s important masking regulations in place.”

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.