Wearing Masks in School Still Required: NYSDOH Has Not Changed Its Mask Requirement
Update: June 6 2021
Dear Members of the Harrison Learning Community,
I write to clarify a reported change to the guidelines that require students, faculty, and staff to wear masks in public schools and on public school property. On Friday afternoon there were press reports indicating effective Monday, June 7, the New York State Department of Health would issue new guidelines lifting the requirement for students, faculty, and staff to wear masks when outdoors, and making mask-wearing indoors optional, regardless of vaccinations status. No such change has occurred. Throughout the weekend the Board of Education and I reached out to state officials for further clarification. Thanks to the efforts of State Senator Shelly Mayer, we verified through the Governor’s office on Sunday morning that no changes have been made to the guidelines at this time.
Under NY state law, school districts must follow the directives issued by the New York State Department of Health. Without explicit legal authority districts cannot change the requirements to the current guidance. To date, despite what you have read in the media, districts have received no directives from the New York State Department of Health about a change in regulations regarding the wearing of masks in public schools.
The release of this information on a Friday afternoon, with no consultation or advance notice to school districts was irresponsible and stoked anxiety and confusion. Creating expectations for immediate changes in district policies is reckless and sows resentment and anger at a time when principals, teachers, parents and students are focusing on a positive conclusion to an incredibly challenging year.
All students, faculty, and staff must continue to wear masks in school and on school property. Required mask-wearing remains in effect until further notice.
What will happen if the Commissioner's proposals are implemented?
IF the Commissioner’s proposals are enacted, the District will follow the guidance issued by the NYSDOH and communicate any changes in District policy with families immediately.
Our plan will ensure that parents have the information and research to make informed choices as to what is best for their children without creating undue risks to others. From the outset, we have followed expert guidance, consulted research, and advocated to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. We always follow that path.
Most importantly, as we conclude this school year, please help your principal and teachers, who have been heroic throughout this year, to maintain a safe and collaborative environment for our students.
Louis N. Wool, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools