Region’s superintendents call for health commissioner to act on masking

As masking mandate recommendations evolve, the region’s school superintendents are working collectively to advocate for “normalcy.” The following letter has been sent to the New York State Commissioner of Health on behalf of school superintendents in the Capital Region BOCES region.

February 26, 2022

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

Dear 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, our group has recently advocated that the NYS Department of Health provide information and metrics to allow our students and staff to have a roadmap to move away from the current masking requirements. Currently the entire Capital Region is in the new CDC “Green Zone,” or low risk of infection.

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 busses in counties identified by the CDC as 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.

Thank you for your consideration.

Anita M. Murphy
District Superintendent and CEO
Capital Region BOCES

On behalf of the 24 Superintendents of Schools in the Capital Region BOCES region.

Superintendents of Schools in the Capital Region
Kaweeda Adams, Albany CSD
Dr. Timothy Mundell, Berne-Knox-Westerlo CSD
Jody Monroe, Bethlehem CSD
Dr. Patrick McGrath, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake CSD
Carl Mummenthey, Cobleskill-Richmondville CSD
Peggy O’Shea, Cohoes CSD
Dr. James Niedermeier, Duanesburg CSD
Kimberly Ross, Green Island Union Free SD
Dr. Marie Wiles, Guilderland CSD
Dr. Maureen Long, Menands Union Free SD
Brian Dunn, Middleburgh CSD
Shannon Shine, Mohonasen CSD
Dr. Juliette Pennyman, Interim, Niskayuna CSD
D. Joseph Corr, North Colonie CSD
Dr. Brian Bailey, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk CSD
Dr. Thomas Reardon, Schalmont CSD
Anibal Soler Jr., Schenectady City SD
David Blanchard, Schoharie CSD
Susan Swartz, Scotia-Glenville CSD
Tom Yorke, Sharon Springs CSD
Dr. L. Oliver Robinson, Shenendehowa CSD
Dr. David Perry, South Colonie CSD
Francis Macri, Voorheesville CSD
Dr. Donald W. Stevens Jr., Watervliet City SD

cc: Anita Murphy, District Superintendent, Capital Region Supervisory District
Dr. Betty A. Rosa, New York State Commissioner of Education
Elizabeth Whalen M.D, Albany County Public Health Services
Daniel Kuhles, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner, Saratoga County Public Health Services
Dr. Amy Gildemeister, Schoharie County Public Health
Keith Brown, Schenectady County Public Health

Members of the New York State Assembly
Michael Benedetto
Phil Steck
Patricia Fahy
Christopher Tague
John McDonald
Mary Beth Walsh
Angelo Santabarbara
Carrie Woerner

Members New York State Senate
Neil Breslin
Michelle Hinchey
Daphne Jordan
Shelly Mayer
Dan Stec
James Tedisco