Dear Minisink Valley parents/guardians:
I’m writing with an update on mask requirements, which I know continues to be on everyone’s minds particularly with the exceptionally hot weather we’re facing this week combined with recent news reports.
It’s important to stress that mask requirements are not a local decision. School districts cannot disregard what is being directed by the Department of Health and the State Education Department. There is no negotiation in this.
Additionally, any changes to protocols, in addition to being in compliance with law, must result from following the established process of stakeholder input. Additionally, these changes must be reviewed by the district’s medical director and attorneys.
Last evening, June 7, we received updated New York State guidance reinforcing masks are longer required when students are outside of school buildings. This change is a welcome change in protocol that will benefit our students, while still ensuring the safety of all involved.
This is important to stress: Gov. Cuomo reported that students, faculty and staff will be required to wear masks indoors As stated in the directives from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York State Education Department (NYSED), masks are required while in the school setting.
Because NYSDOH and NYSED have also provided guidance regarding the importance of mask breaks, I also want to stress the following:
- Faculty and staff will continue to increase the amount of opportunities for students to engage in learning activities outside of the school building, which means additional time without the requirement of wearing a mask. (Remote students: Please allow for flexibility with log in times and expect more independent learning activities as classes take increased outdoor mask breaks.)
- Faculty and staff will continue to increase the frequency and duration of mask breaks while in the classrooms.
- Students will continue to be physically distanced to the greatest extent possible throughout the school day to allow for the increased frequency and duration of the mask breaks.
- Faculty and staff continue to be permitted to take frequent mask breaks when physically distanced from others.
I’ve responded to requests emailed to me regarding the ending of the mask requirements, reinforcing that the school district must comply with current regulations and laws. We will always put student health and safety first. I again hope this provides additional clarification on our commitment to have realistic expectations for mask wearing while in school buildings. Our plans comply with the requirements and allows for flexibility to the greatest extent possible.
Thank you for your continued support and patience.
Brian C. Monahan