Message to the Community from the President of the Board of Education
Dear Middle Country Community,
As you are aware, the Governor’s office issued conflicting information over the last several days. Initially, we believed that indoor and outdoor mask wearing would be eliminated effective Monday, June 7, 2021. The Board of Education and the Superintendent were eager to eliminate the mask mandate and allow parents the choice of masking their children. However, the Board and Superintendent were surprised to receive information the latter part of the weekend that halted the Governor’s mask relief announcement of Friday June 4, 2021.
On Monday June 7, 2021, Governor Cuomo stated that his office and the NYS Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, had consulted with the CDC. Governor Cuomo reported that the CDC agreed to eliminate requirements that students and staff must wear masks outdoors, but the directives requiring students/staff to wear masks while indoors remained unchanged. The Governor reiterated that masks must be worn by students, staff, and visitors when inside the school buildings. The mask mandate also extends to school buses.
Some community members are asking for the board’s response to the directive and for an explanation as to why the Board of Education and Superintendent are not rejecting the requirement that students and staff wear masks indoors. The directives from the NYS Department of Health and Governor’s Office are not subject to school board control. The failure to comply with such directives could hold the school district liable and/or imposed sanctions, which could include school closure. Furthermore, this could result in school districts losing state aid or exposure to class action suits. We have stressed to the community at several board meetings, violating directives is not the answer.
The Board of Education recognizes your frustration. The mixed messages and information have caused much confusion. We, the board, are frustrated too; however, we cannot violate directives and mandates. Your ongoing cooperation and patience with the requirements imposed upon us is greatly appreciated. As we approach the final days of the school year, we remain hopeful that these restrictions will continue to be eliminated, especially as we plan for the new year in September.
Our efforts are to continue to meet with elected officials and lobby for local control. Our legislative committee will be working over the summer to support a return to normal school year in September. Anyone interested in participating in the legislative committee, please contact Ms. Larkin, the District Clerk at email@example.com.
Karen J. Lessler, Ed.D.