GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Two weeks ago, 31 North Country school districts from Warren, Washington, and Saratoga Counties put their names on a letter calling for a clear roadmap to unmasking students. The letter asked New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul for guidelines and specific numbers on how low the COVID case count would have to be in order to let students start coming to classes without masks.

Earlier this week, Hochul ended the more recent mask-or-vax mandate that was imposed in December – for most places. Schools, however, were told that students have to continue coming to school with masks on until at least the first week of March, after many will return from February breaks.

What they do on those breaks—and before and after school every day—will most likely happen entirely in spaces where face masks are not a requirement. According to Hartford Superintendent Andrew Cook—whose signature ends the letter to Hochul—that’s the problem.

“It’s fair to say that the schools are pretty frustrated that the mask mandate has been lifted for everywhere else except for schools,” said Cook, who also serves as a chairperson for WSWHE BOCES’ School Officer Advocacy Committee. “When you look at it in practicality, you have students that go play recreational sports like indoor soccer, or they go to the SkyZone and they can jump around with other individuals from all over the state without wearing a mask. But then the next morning you have to come to school, wear a mask and sit six feet away from your classmates. It makes no sense.”

The letter, authored by Cook on behalf of the 31 schools from Warren-Saratoga-Washington-Hamilton-Essex (WSWHE) BOCES, was first written in response to recent confusion in the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the mask mandate itself. The schools asked for a “pathway to normalcy,” including not only specifics on what criteria mean the masks come off, but also a better understanding of how mandates like these affect students’ lives both in and out of the classroom.

Staying masked until March does constitute more of a potential end date than the districts had before. It’s not quite what they had in mind, though.

“It’s a little off-base,” said Cook. “It’s fair to say that we appreciate that there’s discussion about when the mask mandate for schools is going to be lifted, but the frustrating part to us is there’s no concrete timeline. And there’s no concrete metric as to what’s going to make that determination.”

Cook—and all schools in WSWHE BOCES—have heard from frustrated students and parents since before the news on Wednesday, and certainly plenty in the days since. In recent days, there have been families keeping their kids home from school as an act of protest – including some from Hartford.

The school has stayed in communication with those families, and openly encourages their right to protest. Hartford itself has not had many COVID cases over the course of the pandemic. Cook says one of the best things those families can do is be part of the push for change at a state level.

Speaking of the state, Hochul’s office had not sent any kind of response to the letter from WSWHE BOCES as of Friday. Cook did point to a teleconference Hochul recently held with state education groups including the School Board Association and the state Superintendents Council. That conversation doesn’t go unappreciated—as a start.

“Our job as school superintendents is to ensure the health and safety of everybody who enters our buildings,” Cook said. “Allow us to be part of that conversation, and use our expertise to make choices for our districts as part of these conversations.”

At the end of the day, the group of school districts is looking for the same thing it always has been. If the mask mandate will be reconsidered in early March, the group would like to know what metric they should watch in order to get an idea of what decision to expect next month.

“It seems to be a double standard for students, that families can go out to eat and sit in a restaurant together, and their kids can go have sleepovers, and then they come to school and they have to be masked,” Cook said.