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NYS not yet ready to change school mask guidance

Dan Clark
New York Now

It looks like New York State is not ready to change its guidance on masking yet for grades K-12.

On Friday, state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker released a letterhe sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying that the state would try and align its school and summer camp mask guidance. That would mean that both indoors and outdoors, students, campers and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks.

Zucker had written that New York will move forward with the plan unless the CDC provides data or science that “contradicts” that change before Monday.

On Sunday, the state Education Department sent a note to school district officials saying that the intent of Zucker’s letter was to obtain a response from the CDC regarding the different standards for summer camps and schools, but “it has not changed any existing arrangements” and, therefore, schools should continue to operate under existing procedures until further notice.

State education officials said no changes will be made by state officials until after Monday, June 7, to give the CDC an opportunity to respond to the letter from the state’s health commissioner.

Local districts are trying to keep up. KenTon Schools, for example, posted the following on its website Sunday:

"The Ken-Ton School District has consistently followed the health and safety regulations released by the NYSDOH over the course of the pandemic. Importantly, until NYSDOH fulfills its responsibility to update the state guidance according to its June 4 letter to the CDC, the current guidance remains in effect, including the current mask mandate.

"All students and staff must continue to follow our current practice of wearing masks as we await a NYSDOH statement officially changing the mask guidance. We appreciate your continued patience while we wait for the state to communicate with us."

WBFO's Marian Hetherly contributed to this story.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's Director of News and Public Affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
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