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Masks optional in at least two Long Island school districts on Monday

Masks optional in at least two Long Island school districts
on Monday 1

At least two Long Island school districts allowed students and staff the option of not wearing face masks on Monday, despite the fact that decision may put them in violation of current state policy.

The Patchogue-Medford School District and Sachem Central School District announced over the weekend that students and staff would have the option to not wear masks on Monday and maintained those protocols, despite an announcement Sunday by state officials that mask requirements remain in place.

The policy confusion stems from the Friday release of a letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker saying that the state would lift school mask mandate effective on Monday, in the absence of the CDC providing feedback that would contradict the approach.

That was followed by updated guidance from the New York State Education Department on Sunday that “existing arrangements” requiring universal mask use in schools had not changed, pending the CDC response to the planned lifting of the mandate.

The Patchogue-Medford School District said it allowed students and staff who have been vaccinated the option of not wearing a face mask Monday.

In a website posting on Sunday, Patchogue-Medford told district parents and guardians that given the warm weather expected this week and through the end of the school year, superintendent Donna Jones “has determined that we will offer all staff members and students the option of continuing to wear a mask, based on their individual comfort level with the proposed guidance.”

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The Sachem Central School District made a similar announcement to students and staff on its district website: “The Sachem Board of Education voted tonight to make masks optional in our schools for students and staff effective June 7, 2021. Students should still wear masks on the buses to and from school. Emails to all families is to follow.”

Representatives of both districts on Monday said officials were still trying to get clarification on face mask policies and protocols moving forward.

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