Letter: B-P joins call to end NYS mask mandate in schools

Dear members of the Broadalbin-Perth community,

I am continuing to closely monitor developments on the New York state public school mask mandate as they unfold.  

On Saturday, Feb. 26, the school district superintendents in the HFM BOCES region wrote to Gov. Kathy Hochul and Health Commissioner Mary Bassett urging the state to update the masking guidelines for schools following the new recommendations issued by the CDC this week.

As you may be aware, on Friday, Feb. 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced they no longer recommend that communities with low or medium risk of transmission of COVID-19 require indoor masking in most public spaces, including schools. The CDC now designates Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties as having low risk of transmission.

Earlier this month, Gov. Hochul announced she would reevaluate the school mask requirement by March 4. The HFM school superintendents have respectfully urged the governor to act sooner, prior to the return from winter break on Monday.

Please know that your Broadalbin-Perth leadership and Board of Education strongly feel the current COVID-19 data shows that the time is now to lift the mask mandate from New York’s public schools, but we continue to show support to any student or staff member who, for personal reasons, chooses to continue to wear a mask.  

We will provide updated information as it becomes available. Please know that until the state issues updated guidance, school mask requirements remain in place for students, staff, and visitors. Thank you for your continued cooperation during this time.

Stephen M. Tomlinson in cursive
Stephen M. Tomlinson
Superintendent of Schools

Below is the text of the letter signed by area superintendents:

February 26, 2022

Honorable Kathy Hochul                
Governor of New York State                
NYS State Capitol Building                
Albany, New York 12224                

Commissioner Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH
New York State Department of Health
Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12203

Dear Governor Hochul and Commissioner Bassett,

As you are aware, on Friday, February 25, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines for masking, and in particular, updated guidelines for masking in schools.

As you may recall, on January 28, the school superintendents of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery county area endorsed a letter written by our colleagues in the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex region entitled “Pathway to Normalcy.” That letter asked for information and metrics to allow our students and staff to have a roadmap to move away from the current masking requirements.

We write you today with a sense of urgency asking you to implement the following measures, before students return from vacation on Monday, February 28:

  • In compliance with the new CDC recommendations, remove the mandate for masking for school facilities and on school buses in counties identified by the CDC at low or medium levels of risk;
  • Provide guidance to school districts, parents, and staff about the factors that would trigger the reintroduction of masks; and
  • Provide guidance to school districts on changes to other mitigation layers including social distancing.

The Superintendents of Schools in the HFM BOCES region:
Stephen Tomlinson, Broadalbin-Perth Central School District
Richard Ruberti, Greater Amsterdam School District
Dr. Nick Fitzgerald, Canajoharie Central School District
Michelle Ellis, Edinburg Common School District
Thomas Ciaccio, Fonda-Fultonville Central School District
Jeffery Ziegler, Fort Plain Central School District
David Halloran, Gloversville Enlarged School District
Dr. William Crankshaw, Greater Johnstown School District
Heather Philo, Lake Pleasant Central School District
Christopher Harper, MayfieldCentral School District
Dr. Leslie Ford, Northville Central School District
Richard Rose, Piseco Common School District
Adam Heroth, Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District
Thomas Sincavage, Wells Central School District
Nicole Dettenrieder, Wheelerville Union Free School District

New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara
New York State Assemblyman Robert Smullen
New York State Senator Michelle Hinchey
New York State Senator James Tedisco
Laurel Headwell, Fulton County Public Health
Erica Mahoney, Hamilton County Public Health
Sara Boerenko, Montgomery County Public Health
David Ziskin, District Superintendent, HFM BOCES