New York expected to change guidance for masks in schools and camps Monday; NYSUT responds

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A letter by Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker outlines new guidance for mask-wearing in schools and camps expected to be put in place Monday, barring any objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). School guidance and camp guidance would be the same set of rules.

In the letter, Dr. Zucker cites that the CDC guidance for schools is that all students, teachers and staff should wear a well-fitting mask. Dr. Zucker says the guidance does not differentiate between indoor and outdoor activities and does not include guidance for vaccinated individuals.

He then cites the CDC guidance for camps that says mask-wearing is highly recommended for unvaccinated people indoors. The guidance also says that while outside, regardless of vaccination status, people do not need to wear masks other than in certain higher-risk circumstances. It also says that a fully vaccinated individual does not have to wear a mask indoors or out.

New Guidance Expected Monday:

  • Indoors, mask use will be strongly encouraged but not required for students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Outdoors, masks are not required; students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated are “encouraged” to wear a mask in certain higher-risk circumstances.
  • Both indoors and outdoors, students, campers, and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks.
  • Schools and camps may choose to implement stricter standards.

Dr. Zucker cites the fact that many camps are held on school grounds and usually deal with children that aligning the guidance for both is the right move. He also asked the CDC to review the guidelines to make sure there is no data or science that would contradict the new rules.

You can read the full letter below:

New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) President Andy Pallotta released the following statement Friday afternoon:

“Announcing on a Friday afternoon that masks will now be optional for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in schools starting Monday — with only three weeks remaining in the school year — is whiplash-inducing news. Short of any additional guidance from the state or the CDC before Monday, we implore school districts to closely evaluate local conditions and connect with their educators and parents to decide the best course of action for protecting their school community.” 

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