Schools districts await mask guidance weeks before year starts

Guidance expected once Kathy Hochul takes office
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Posted at 11:08 PM, Aug 15, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — An increase in COVID-19 cases in the state has left parents and students wondering whether a mask mandate will be in effect at schools this fall.

“I think when you mandate things you don’t get the compliance you receive when you educate, enlighten, talk, discuss, rationalize and reason,” Niagara City School District Superintendent Mark Laurrie said.

Laurrie said he is in favor of each district making their own choice. But he said no matter waht, each student will have to bring a mask with them to school.

“Whether you’re vaccinated our not, we’re not going to start bifurcating the vaccinated from the unvaccinated,” Laurrie said.

He said when students are in less populated areas, they’ll have the option to take their mask off, but on a bus, or walking through the hall, masks will be required. Incoming governor Kathy Hochul said keeping New Yorkers safe is her priority.

“Masks for kids in schools, this is something that I believe has to occur to make sure our teachers are safe, our administrators are safe and above all, each child is,” Hochul said.

“It’s the only way we are going to be protected, it’s the safest, so please parents, best to keep our kids protected,” parent Toya Lamar said.

Council member Rasheed Wyatt said he does not think a mask mandate is a bad thing.

“I think a mask is a proper precaution to make sure our children and our teachers and our administrators are all safe,” Wyatt said.

Laurrie said keeping cases in the county under 100 per 100,000 is key. He said if there are high rates of transmission, he will have students be 100 percent remote, rather than hybrid.

“We are totally coming back, I don’t see any time when we would come back to a split schedule,” Laurrie said.

Hochul will officially take office in just over one week, on August 24. An official decision regarding mask mandates in school can be expected soon-after, just in time for the school year.