Dear Minisink Valley school community:
We continue to await the ruling of the New York State Appellate Court on the Nassau County mask mandate case, where the initial ruling was that the mask mandate was unconstitutional and the New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) lacked the authority to impose them.
To add to this complex mix, we’ve all read recent media reports about plans for our neighboring states to lift or relax mask mandates in public schools during various times in March.
Please be advised that, when permitted by law, Minisink Valley will make mask wearing optional for everyone inside our buildings. We believe a decision will come after the state completes a thorough review and analysis of the current decline of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state and by region.
The only exception remains that mask wearing will still be required only on school buses, in accordance with the federal mandates we are required to follow, until there is a change in that mandate.
AS A REMINDER: Masks must continue to be worn in schools until we are advised otherwise. The district is required to follow this mandate.
We don’t know what the timeframe for the change for indoor mask wearing will be, but I felt it was important to advise you of our intentions now. In a Feb. 8 virtual meeting, Gov. Hochul told education groups the mask mandate for schools will continue through at least the February break. On Feb. 9, the governor again reaffirmed this and said a decision would be made in early March about any mask modifications, based on the collected metrics.
I know this hopeful and anticipated change will be appreciated by many as much as I know there are others who feel differently. We are obligated to follow mandate requirements, and accept the government’s commitment to remove those mandates as soon as it can while maximizing student and staff health and safety. We know case counts continue to dramatically decline — though this can quickly change, per what we saw with the Omicron variant.
The district will continue to provide updates as needed while we await further guidance and/or a court decision. Thank you for your attention to this important information.
Brian C. Monahan