Letter from Superintendent Regarding Masks at School

I want to pass along updates to our Reopening Plan based upon the updated (June 7, 2021) guidance released by NYSDoH. With respect to face masks, the new guidance states:

“Effective June 7, 2021, face masks are not required to be worn outdoors on school grounds, including during outdoor school sports. However, Responsible Parties may choose to require face masks outdoors on school grounds, subject to the parameters of this guidance. No student, teacher, staff member, or visitor may be prevented from wearing an acceptable face mask voluntarily on school grounds.”

Accordingly, effective immediately (today), the district will implement the following change to our District Reopening Plan.

  • Students and staff are NOT required to wear masks outside for physical education classes, recess or other outdoor school activities.
  • Students and spectators are not required to wear masks during outdoor interscholastic sports that take place on BH-BL facilities.
  • No student, teacher, staff member, or visitor will be prevented from wearing an acceptable face mask voluntarily on school grounds.
  • At this time all requirements for indoor and transportation mask use remain the same.
  • Teachers are urged to provide frequent outdoor mask breaks throughout the school day.
  • Additionally, Schools may utilize the 3-ft. social distancing option provided by the DoH for the purposes of occupying air conditioned space, provided that the following conditions apply: 1) students are wearing masks; and 2) transmission rates as determined by CDC make the particular school eligible to utilize the 3-foot rule.

These changes have been reviewed and approved by our school physician and school nurses. They were developed after review of survey data, emails, and conversations with various stakeholder groups.

There are no changes to the indoor or bus mask policies. We had hoped that the Department of Health would indicate that it was time for some latitude in these areas but they have not. I know that there are many that feel upset that NYS reversed itself between Friday and Monday. (Ostensibly, they are saying that they talked with CDC and decided to hold off on the changes to indoor mask use requirement for now.)  However, for as many as feel the masks are no longer needed, excessive, etc., there are as many others who feel that no masks in the close quarters of the classrooms this close to the end of the year makes no sense and will lead to unnecessary spread of COVID and quarantines just prior to the fun celebratory events of the end of the year. The good news is that we are almost at the end of the year and there are strong indications that we will be able to begin next school year (and even summer programming) in a much more normal way.

These new regulations should clear up any confusion about communicating the outdoor mask policy to students. No masks are required outside for any reason, no matter what distance. Breaks, outdoor gatherings, PE class, recess- are all covered. At the same time, students can wear masks if they so choose. 

Graduation Update

Parents of seniors–no final decision on Graduation 2021 location has been made. We continue to stay in close contact with SPAC and we will see what effect these new regulations have, if any, on the number of guests allowed, testing requirements etc. We will have a decision soon.

We only have about two weeks to go until we can put this year behind us. We are actively studying the results of the past year and planning to spend our federal grant money in a way that will help us address any gaps, difficulties, or learning loss we are finding. If you are interested, we are having an online forum tonight at 6:00 pm to review our Federal grant application that is due 6/15. A link to the forum can be found on the main web page.  I am excited about the steps we are putting in place next year to support your children and get back to normal.

In the meantime, let’s finish strong!

Patrick