Members of the Rensselaer City School District Community,
Although clarification was sent out yesterday concerning the misreported mask guidance, there is still some confusion. In an effort to make this week go smoothly, the superintendents in our region met this morning to discuss the topic. After meeting with regional superintendents and county Department of Health officials today, our District will be implementing temporary minor mask adjustments in anticipation of the expected heat and humidity tomorrow and of additional guidance from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).
Our reopening plan already gives teachers a certain amount of latitude to implement mask breaks in the classroom when social distancing can be achieved. On Monday, we will encourage teachers and staff to exercise that discretion in class while students are seated. Mask wearing can be relaxed outside during recess and physical education while following all other COVID-19 protocols including physical distancing. Please continue to follow all COVID-19 mitigation protocols, including social distancing, handwashing, and the wearing of masks on buses as these have worked throughout the school year and have allowed us to keep our school open.
Our district is aware of the letter that the NYS Commissioner of Health Dr. Zucker sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky last Friday regarding new COVID-19 guidance for the wearing of masks in schools across NYS. While Dr. Zucker’s intent has already been publicized in various media outlets; these changes have not been formally communicated to school districts.
Over the weekend, we received an email from the New York State Education Department clarifying that the intent of this letter was to obtain a response from the CDC regarding differing standards for summer camps and schools. At this time, we are awaiting official guidance from the New York State Department of Health or the State Education Department on mask changes. This is expected on Monday. The reopening team will review and evaluate any new guidance before considering or making any changes to its COVID-19 mask protocols.
The health and safety of our students and staff remains our top priority as we prepare to finish this school year. Thank you again for your patience as we await formal guidance that will allow us to make any appropriate permanent changes to the mask protocols.