Cuomo: Outdoor mask mandate lifted for schools |

Cuomo: Outdoor mask mandate lifted for schools

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: June 07, 2021 08:32 PM
Created: June 07, 2021 04:57 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York state is lifting its mandate on outdoor mask-wearing at schools, but the indoor-mask requirement will stand until the end of the 2020-21 school year.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday the state would be aligning its guidance with the current guidelines on summer camps.

“The numbers show that the risk of transmission by children is extremely low, especially in the state. We are going to modify the CDC guidance and allow schools to choose no mask outside for children,” the governor said at a press conference.  

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker wrote a letter Friday to the CDC expressing concerns about the difference in mask guidelines between schools and summer camps. The letter also said the state would start allowing districts to waive the mask rule (both indoors and outdoors) starting Monday unless the CDC said otherwise. 

Cuomo said he and Zucker spoke to the CDC over the weekend, and he says the organization was not comfortable with lifting indoor masking requirements. The governor said the CDC brought up the soon-to-be-over school year, as well as any reconfigurations districts could have to make to accommodate the indoor rule change.

“You would have to do a whole new set of guidance, we only have two weeks (left of school) you’d have to communicate with all the parents, you’d have to communicate with the teachers and… leave it alone for two weeks but then get it ready for September is basically is what it is,” Cuomo explained.  

Kathleen Graupman, president of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents, issued the following statement.

"Based on the Governor’s press conference today, school districts are expecting updated written guidance in the near future that will clarify masking requirements. It is unfortunate that the State continues to put school districts in untenable situations regarding decision making. Local superintendents are making the best decisions they can based on their local conditions and their communities.”

While the indoor masking mandate has not been lifted, at least three local school districts announced they are recommending masks indoors, but not requiring them. 

Fairport and Churchville say students do not need to wear masks while seated or outdoors, only when passing between classes or on busses. 

Webster's Interim Superintendent Brian Neenan said in a letter to parents that current state guidance for school reopening states: “Students who are unable to medically tolerate a mask, including students where such mask would impair their physical health or mental health are not subject to the required use of a mask.” 

He says there is general consensus that this section allows for school districts’ discretion to address situations such as high heat days. As of Monday, June 7, Neenan says, with the understanding that masks are still encouraged indoors, the districts will “respect each families’ choice to make the best decision for the physical and mental health and safety of their children to wear, or not to wear, a mask on school grounds, indoors and outdoors, or on school transportation.”

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