HFM superintendents call on governor, state health commissioner to act on mask guidelines

Dear Families, 

On Saturday, Feb. 26, the school superintendents in the HFM region wrote 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 CDC announced it no longer recommends that communities with low/medium transmission risks require indoor masking in most public spaces, including schools. The CDC now designates Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties as having a low transmission risk. 
Earlier this month, the governor announced she would reevaluate the school mask requirement by March 4. The HFM school superintendents urge the governor to act sooner, prior to the return from Winter Break on Monday. 
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. We thank you for your cooperation during this time. 
Below is the text of the letter signed by area superintendents.

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.

Sincerely, 

The Superintendents of Schools in the HFM BOCES region: 

Richard Ruberti, Greater Amsterdam 
Stephen Tomlinson, Broadalbin-Perth
Dr. Nick Fitzgerald, Canajoharie 
Michelle Ellis, Edinburg Common
Thomas Ciaccio, Fonda-Fultonville
Jeffery Ziegler, Fort Plain
David Halloran, Gloversville Enlarged
Dr. William Crankshaw, Greater Johnstown
Heather Philo, Lake PleasantDr. Leslie Ford, Northville
Richard Rose, Piseco 
Adam Heroth, Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville 
Thomas Sincavage, Wells
Nicole Dettenrieder, Wheelerville

CC:

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