NYS Education Department: Mask guidelines for schools not changing for Monday

New York teachers union calling for masks to be worn at all times in school
Posted at 9:09 PM, Jun 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 10:15:47-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Sunday afternoon, the New York State Education Department sent an email to superintendents saying mask guidance for students would not be changing Monday. The email explained executive staff told the education department Dr. Howard Zucker's Friday letter to the CDC was to prompt a response and wasn't an indication guidance would change for Monday.

"The rules in their school regarding masks, according to the state education department, are the same Monday as they were on Friday," Michael Cornell, Hamburg Superintendent and President of the Erie Niagara Superintendent's Association, said.

Friday, Dr. Howard Zucker sent a letter to the CDC indicating that the state planned to alter mask guidance in schools come Monday.

"People's patience is starting to run out with the state. For them to have released this letter on Friday and left a weekend of uncertainty has people upset. That's what people are expressing to school superintendents," Cornell said.

Cornell said the letter created a weekend of uncertainty for families and school staff.

"His intent is to create consistency between the masking rules that are enforced in summer camps and have them be the same as the rules in schools," Cornell said, "If that’s what they’re going to do, they need to fulfill their responsibility and stay to their word and make the change so that we know what’s going on. It’s not fair to families, students and staff to be left in limbo any longer than is necessary."

Niagara Falls Superintendent Mark Laurrie said changes to the guidance could come as soon as Tuesday.

"The next steps for districts are to completely read it, completely understand it, we would, because we’ve been in lock step with the department of health in Niagara County, confirm with our health director, confirm with our board of education, then notify staff, parents and families," Laurrie said.

Regardless of if there are changes to the guidance, the Buffalo Public School District said it will require masks and social distancing throughout the end of the school year.

"With less than two and a half weeks of school remaining, it’s a bit confounding as to why the urgency is for tomorrow," Laurrie said.

Laurrie said he wishes the state would begin working on guidance for the upcoming school year.

"We really need to have that clear guidance. We were promised that two weeks ago or more, and that never came out," Laurrie said.