Confusion reigns as mask mandate set to end in schools
Tomorrow is the big day when New York State will be lifting its mask mandate in your classrooms, but Hudson Valley school district officials are figuring out how to move forward.
As of tomorrow masks will be optional in schools across New York state and this is partly due to a drop in COVID-19 numbers and new CDC guidelines. But school districts are still waiting on some guidance from state health officials.
Some are still questioning if masks are only optional in the classroom. There's some confusion about whether or not students still need to wear masks on buses, during athletics, and large gatherings or assemblies.
Some district officials are also asking if this means they can put an end to social distancing policies.
In Newburgh, masks will be optional in the classroom but students must still wear them on the school bus.
State health department officials say they are hoping to release full guidance to schools before masks become optional tomorrow. Gov. Kathy Hochul says there will be a ‘frequently asked questions’ webpage set up. "We are anticipating and looking forward to actual guidance that will hopefully spell out answers to some of those questions," says White Plains Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Ricca.
The school mask mandates have been a hot topic in districts all across the country and it's often become divisive as many parents have been calling for it to end for months while others aren't quite ready.
But perhaps the biggest hurdle now is to try and make everyone feel comfortable. "Please encourage conversations with children and with students to talk about choice, so if a student is wearing a mask or not wearing a mask be respectful of the choice," says Newburgh Schools Superintendent Ed Forgit. "Certainly for folks who wish to continue to wear masks, they're going to be supported and folks who wish to take their masks off they're going to be supported as well," says Ricca.