Schools throughout the Mohawk Valley have been struggling with the confusion created when the State announced on Friday that schools won't have to require masks starting Monday morning. Now there's a late weekend update from NYS for schools to follow on Monday.

The announcement caught school districts off-guard later Friday and several released alerts to parents and students over the weekend stating that masks will be required on Monday.

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"Both indoors and outdoors, students, campers and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks," Health Commissioner Howard Zucker wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "If there is any data or science that you are aware of that contradicts moving forward with this approach, please let me know as soon as possible," Zucker added.


As schools were scrambling to answer parent and teacher questions, finally on Sunday afternoon, the Governor's office issued a clarification on Zucker's declaration. The State now says there is no change in the mask mandate for classes on Monday. Masks must be worn.

Herkimer County BOCES released a press release on Sunday confirming the updated guidance.

"During the afternoon of Sunday, June 6, the New York State Education Department provided guidance to schools that after communicating with state executive staff, it was determined that schools should continue to operate under their existing procedures until further notice and that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t make any changes until after Monday, June 7, to afford the CDC an opportunity to respond to the letter.

Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Sandra Sherwood and the 10 Herkimer BOCES component school superintendents agreed to not make any changes to mask-wearing requirements at this time. Each of the regional schools will consider implementing changes as soon as the proper state agency gives revised guidance."

Herkimer County BOCES school districts are Central Valley, Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Little Falls, Mount Markham, Owen D. Young, Poland, Richfield Springs and West Canada Valley.

The new guidance from New York will apply to all schools in New York State. The State claims it is awaiting further guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC.

The announcement Sunday afternoon lends credence to critics, like Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, who say NYS messaging on COVID-19 is unorganized and lacks feedback and communication before official announcements like Zucker's are made. Picente has complained throughout the pandemic that they receive new information on COVID restrictions through the media and via the Governor's mid-day briefings.

Zucker sent a letter to the CDC on Friday regarding the dropping of the mask mandate. There's no word on when the CDC is expected to respond.

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