NEW YORK — In a press conference on Feb. 27, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the statewide mask mandate would be lifted in schools, childcare centers, and school buses effective Wednesday, March 2.
Governor Hochul’s announcement follows changes made Feb. 25 to the metrics used by the CDC to determine risk and transmission levels in communities and was based on the analysis of recent COVID-19 data trends. Masks will be optional for students, educators, and visitors, while other mitigation strategies should remain in place.
“With more New Yorkers getting vaccinated, and the steady decline over the past several weeks in cases and hospitalizations from Omicron, we are now entering a new phase of the pandemic. Because New Yorkers have stepped up, we can confidently remove the statewide mask requirement in our schools,” said Governor Hochul.
Superintendents of Saratoga County school districts have released statements on their respective district websites addressing the new guidance, as it came the day prior to students returning from winter recess.
Dr. Michael Patton, Superintendent of Schools of the Saratoga Springs City School District further explained the new metrics:
“It is no longer the CDC’s recommendation that masks be required in areas with a low or medium community rate, and Saratoga County’s community level is currently categorized as ‘low.’
Adding, “Governor Hochul clarified that recommendations regarding mask wearing in schools and on school buses in counties with high community rates will be at the discretion of local Departments of Health. Saratoga County is not requiring face masks after the state mandate is lifted on March 2.
Along with Dr. Patton, Ballston Spa Central School District Superintendent of Schools, Ken Slentz, and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Patrick McGrath, expressed that they will not tolerate any bullying or harassment towards those who still choose to wear a mask.
“As everyone eases back into school routines with the state’s mask mandate, it’s important to remember that masks are optional. And according to data from the parent, staff, and student surveys, there will likely be students and staff who wish to continue to wear a mask/face covering beyond Wednesday, March 2,” stated BH-BL Superintendent McGrath. “This decision is perfectly acceptable and welcome at BH-BL, bullying or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.”
For community members in the BSCSD, Superintendent Slentz shared a link on the district’s website (www.bscsd.org) to a FAQ on Changes to NYS Mask Mandate and reminded families that they should be discussing the new guidance/options with their students as we navigate through this next phase.