ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York education leaders walked back a Department of Health announcement about removing mask mandates in schools and summer camps.
On Sunday, New York school districts and BOCES leaders received an email from Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa who now says schools still have to enforce current mask guidance.
Rosa says after talking with NYSDOH representatives, the Department of Education now realizes Friday’s announcement rescinding the mask policies very much depends on a response from the CDC. Since there’s no response yet, Dr. Howard Zucker’s letter from Friday is considered a request for guidance, not a confirmed policy change.
“As a mother of a 15-year-old school-aged kid — I think it should be under discretion as a parent and a school district,” says Albany parent Katie Marquez.
24 school districts including and Albany City Schools and Schenectady City Schools are sticking with the original mask requirements. School officials say public schools haven’t received any definite guidance from the state about the lifted mandate. “Once we receive direction from state officials, we will review the guidance and make adjustments accordingly,” says Albany City Schools Superintendent Kaweeda Adams.
“It’s almost summer time, it’s kind of hard to keep cool in school with masks on,” says Albany freshman Tessa Thoby.
“Our school districts take the health and safety of our students and staff very seriously. Just as we have done throughout the pandemic, we won’t make COVID protocol decisions without guidance from the state health department…We won’t make any changes to our protocols, including mask wearing, until we’ve had time to receive guidance and discuss any changes with our local health officials, boards of education and communities…School leaders recognize that especially as the weather warms up more mask breaks under the appropriate conditions may be needed. This is why wearing masks is just one of the health and safety protocols that our schools have had in place since we reopened in September.”Anita Murphy, Capital Region BOCES District Superintendent
District mask policies in the Capital Region include requirements for mask use on school buses, in classrooms, in school hallways and on playgrounds. Students regularly take mask breaks through the school day, which include during time of physical exertions.
“People should get their vaccines and make sure that they follow what they need to do and stay safe because it’s a big part and now that it’s becoming summer again — everyone can get out and be happy,” says Thoby.