Despite news reports that mask requirements would be lifted in schools across the state beginning Monday, the state Department of Education over the weekend said that’s not the case.
Essentially, districts should continue doing what they’ve been doing “until further notice.”
Friday, state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker wrote a letter sent to the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requesting a change in the mask policies as they applies to schools. In his letter, Zucker said New York was prepared to end its indoor mask requirement in schools and camps starting Monday, June 7, barring an objection from the CDC.
In a letter distributed to school officials across the state on Sunday, the New York State Department of Education clarified that Zucker’s letter was a request for updated guidance for the state – guidance that has not come yet.
“Therefore, schools should continue to operate under their existing procedures until further notice,” the education department wrote to districts. “No changes have been, or will be, made by the Executive until after Monday June 7 to afford the CDC an opportunity to respond to the letter.”
The CDC told The Associated Press on Friday afternoon that it recommends schools and childcare facilities continue to follow COVID-19 prevention strategies, such as consistent indoors mask use, for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year.
Peter Smith, superintendent of schools for the Jamesville-DeWitt School District in Onondaga County, emailed the following Sunday to district staff and families within his district.
“This afternoon the NYS Education Department reiterated that schools should continue to operate under their existing procedures until further notice, so masks are still required for all students, staff, and visitors,” he said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that requiring masks at schools outdoors seemed “a little extreme.” He also said the state was talking to the CDC about the rules.