BOCES groups in the area ask the state to remove the mask rule

As hospitalizations fall, the capital region’s BOCES has joined the growing chorus of ‘unmask our children’.

BOCES sent a letter to state officials on Saturday, noting that the entire Capital Region is now listed as low or medium risk on the county-by-county COVID-19 risk map by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States. Other local BOCES also joined the request.

In a letter written on behalf of 24 school superintendents, BOCES District Superintendent Anita Murphy said the state must drop the school mask mandate before students return Monday.

“We write to you today with a sense of urgency,” she said. “Currently, the entire Capital Region is in the CDC’s new ‘Green Zone,’ or low risk of infection.”

The CDC said Friday that people who are not high risk can stop wearing masks in low and medium risk counties. Locally at medium risk in Albany, Rensselaer and Essex counties. Low risk are Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, and Washington counties.

People at high risk of severe illness from COVID should ask their healthcare provider if they should continue to wear a mask and take other precautions, the CDC says. That might suggest those who live with high-risk people — like their children — should also wear a mask in public, but the CDC hasn’t offered specific guidelines on that.

However, the CDC noted that research has found the omicron variant has spread to more people in households in which a young child caught the virus first, likely because children need close contact. with adults, the CDC said.

The CDC left school districts to try to explain the changes during a school break.

Shenenedehowa Superintendent L. Oliver Robinson sent a letter outlining the district’s “exit strategy” to ease COVID restrictions. He noted that 91% of Saratoga County residents over the age of five have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and hospitalizations have dropped by 60% in the past week alone.

The district will make masks optional outdoors, for recess and outdoor gym class, he said.

“Mask wearing during outdoor recess and/or outdoor physical education will be optional and a student’s choice of whether or not to wear their mask outside must be respected by students and staff” , he said, stressing that civility and respect must prevail.

“Remember that some people will choose to continue masking in environments where it is not necessary. It is crucial that we respect each other’s decisions and remain cautious about close contact,” he said. he declares.

The relaxing mask rules are part of a delicate balancing act, he said.

The district must balance “prioritizing the health and safety of students and staff with supporting the social, emotional and mental health of students and staff,” he said.

Murphy went further, asking state health commissioner Mary Bassett to drop the mask rule entirely in schools and on school buses.

Murphy also asked Bassett to “provide guidance to school districts on changes to other layers of mitigation, including social distancing” and provide details on when masks would be needed again.

Governor Kathy Hochul has asked schools to collect test results from families after the winter break, which she plans to use to determine whether to relax the mask mandate. Schools sent door-to-door texting kits and letters asking families to test children on Friday February 25 and Sunday February 27 and send in results on Monday.

Part of a Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES letter asks heads of state, in line with new CDC recommendations:

Remove the masking mandate for school facilities and on school buses in counties identified by the CDC as low or medium risk levels.,

Provide guidance to school districts, parents, and staff on factors that would trigger the reintroduction of masks, and;

Provide guidance to school districts on changes to other layers of mitigation, including social distancing.

A similar letter to Hochul was also sent by BOCES Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex, BOCES Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery and Questar III (Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties).

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