From the Desk of the Superintendent: Update on masks in school (2/27/2022)

Health Update


Earlier today New York State Governor Kathy Hochul held a briefing to announce that statewide mask requirements for schools will be rescinded, effective March 2, 2022. Citing a 98% decline in cases since the Omicron peak, along with updated CDC guidance, Governor Hochul indicated New York had reached this milestone because “students, educators and parents stepped up to fight the pandemic.” 


Effective Wednesday, March 2, 2022, based on encouraging data regarding declining positivity and hospitalization rates, the statewide mask mandate in schools will be lifted. However, while the school mask mandate will be lifted, counties may still require masks in schools depending on local conditions. The director of Wayne County Public Health has notified school districts that, barring any new public health concern, the local health department will not require Wayne County School District students and employees to wear masks on or after March 2, 2022. This includes school buildings, school buses, district facilities, and school events (unless masks are required by a sponsoring organization, event, or facility). It does not appear that the lifting of the mask mandate is tied to any local health metrics related to COVID-19.


School districts expect to have updated guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the State Education Department in the coming days. Unless the guidelines or other measures require masks to be worn in schools, the school district will shift to a "mask optional" practice effective 6:00 AM, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. 


For some, this shift is welcomed. For others this change may be a source of concern. The school district has committed to following the public health guidelines since the start of the pandemic as this has prioritized in-person instruction and the well-being of our students and staff. Regardless of mask preference, the District acknowledges that each student and staff member has their own story or health situation, and will honor each person's desire to be mask-free or to continue to wear a mask. There is no place for pressure, harassment, or judgment to be placed upon another person because of their personal decision about masks.


Some things to note:


  • Wayne County is currently designated by the CDC as a high transmission zone for COVID-19. The CDC encourages masks to be worn in counties designated as a “high transmission zone.”

  • At home COVID-19 test kits are still available. If you need a kit, contact Alaina at the District Office, (315) 597-3401.

  • The following mitigation measures remain in effect: maintaining physical distance where feasible, hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette, staying home when ill or symptomatic, and voluntary mask wearing for those who prefer the extra protection.

  • A universal mask wearing policy can be implemented in a school district at any time local health concerns warrant such a measure.


As additional health guidance becomes available from the State this week, the District will provide additional updates.


For now, all students and staff will still be required to wear masks on Monday, February 28 and Tuesday, March 1. Unless the anticipated guidelines or other measures require masks to be worn in schools, the school district will shift to a "mask optional" practice effective 6:00 AM, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. 


Thank you for your continued support.


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