Mask mandates still in place following winter break; GJSD joins regional school districts to urge Gov. Hochul to re-evaluate mask guidance
I hope that you and your family have been able to enjoy the winter break and that you are all well. We can’t wait to see our students in school tomorrow – Monday, February 28.
I am writing to communicate that, for now, mask requirements will remain in place for staff and students’ return tomorrow. There are, however, some developments on the topic that I want to share with you.
All school districts in New York State had been told to expect further guidance on mask wearing in schools from the governor by March 4. As you may be aware, on Friday, Feb. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it no longer recommends that communities with low/medium transmission risks require indoor masking in most public spaces, including schools. The CDC now designates Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties as having a low transmission risk.
On Saturday, Feb. 26, school superintendents in the region wrote Gov. Kathy Hochul and Health Commissioner Mary Bassett to urge NYS to update the masking guidelines for schools following the new recommendations issued by the CDC sooner than March 4 and prior to the students’ return from winter break tomorrow.
While that did not happen, I will be sure to provide updated information as it becomes available. Again, please know that until the state issues updated guidance, school mask requirements remain in place for students, staff and visitors. Thank you, in advance, for your patience and cooperation at this time.
Dr. William Crankshaw
Superintendent of Schools
Greater Johnstown School District
Letter signed by area superintendents:
February 26, 2022
Honorable Kathy Hochul Commissioner Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH
Governor of New York State New York State Department of Health
NYS State Capitol Building Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza,
Albany, New York 12224 Albany, New York 12203
Dear Governor Hochul and Commissioner Bassett,
As you are aware, on Friday, February 25, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for masking, and in particular, updated guidelines for masking in schools.
As you may recall, on January 28, the school superintendents of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery county area endorsed a letter written by our colleagues in the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex region entitled “Pathway to Normalcy.” That letter asked for information and metrics to allow our students and staff to have a roadmap to move away from the current masking requirements.
We write you today with a sense of urgency asking you to implement the following measures, before students return from vacation on Monday, February 28:
- In compliance with the new CDC recommendations, remove the mandate for masking for school facilities and on school busses in counties identified by the CDC at low or medium levels of risk.,
- Provide guidance to school districts, parents, and staff about the factors that would trigger the reintroduction of masks, and;
- Provide guidance to school districts on changes to other mitigation layers including social distancing.
The Superintendents of Schools in the HFM BOCES region:
Richard Ruberti, Greater Amsterdam
Stephen Tomlinson, Broadalbin-Perth
Dr. Nick Fitzgerald, Canajoharie
Michelle Ellis, Edinburg Common
Thomas Ciaccio, Fonda-Fultonville
Jeffery Ziegler, Fort Plain
David Halloran, Gloversville Enlarged
Dr. William Crankshaw, Greater Johnstown
Heather Philo, Lake Pleasant
Christopher Harper, Mayfield
Dr. Leslie Ford, Northville
Richard Rose, Piseco
Adam Heroth, Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville
Thomas Sincavage, Wells
Nicole Dettenrieder, Wheelerville
New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara
New York State Assemblyman Robert Smullen
New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey
New York State Senator James Tedisco
Laurel Headwell, Fulton County Public Health
Erica Mahoney, Hamilton County Public Health
Sara Boerenko, Montgomery County Public Health
David Ziskin, District Superintendent, HFM BOCES