Should vaccinated students continue to mask up in class?

School leaders across the region are calling on the state to release updated guidance on masks in schools, as COVID vaccinations have begun for school-aged children.

News 12 Staff

Nov 15, 2021, 10:10 PM

Updated 940 days ago

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School leaders across the region are calling on the state to release updated guidance on masks in schools, as COVID vaccinations have begun for school-aged children.
It comes as the holidays quickly approach and vaccinations are on the rise.
"We want to be able to return children to as much normalcy as safely as we possibly can," says White Plains Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Ricca. 
That's why the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents sent a letter to the state asking for specific guidelines to possibly lift or loosen mask mandates in schools.
"Masks are certainly a good layer in terms of the prevention strategies but with that being said, as we're starting to progress now with the vaccinations," says Elmsford Schools Superintendent Dr. Marc Baiocco. "When will we receive guidance on mask mandates in particular and whether or not we can lift those?"
A meeting hosted by the Council in Mount Kisco  brought in Board of Regents Chancellor Lester Young and state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa.
"We really need a state metric so that every community all throughout the state of New York knows what that metric -- that data point is -- and there's no guesswork there," says Ricca. "...So, while we were asking questions of state Education Department, we also recognize that they continue to work to liaise with the state Health Department."
Lower Hudson Valley superintendents include those in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
They're pointing the governor to mask metrics other states are setting for students.
"Massachusetts has certainly been at the forefront in terms of communications with the schools," says Baiocco. 
School mask requirements in Massachusetts are holding out until January.
School districts there have the option to drop the mandate for those with a vaccine, as long as 80% so long as of students and staff are fully vaccinated.
"The question for state officials is -- when will we receive guidance that will help us in terms of making those decisions as individual districts," says Baiocco. 
Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul said dropping the mask requirement in schools might happen only if New York's COVID numbers are in a good place after the holiday season.
The state Department of Health and state Department of Education have not returned calls for comment.


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