Important Update on Mask Wearing In Schools…

June 6, 2021

Dear New Lebanon Community,

This morning, the superintendents from the schools in Columbia, Greene, and Rensselaer counties met with BOCES and public health officials in anticipation of the expected heat and humidity tomorrow and in anticipation of additional guidance from the New York State Department of Health. We agreed that we may implement some temporary mask adjustments as heat conditions warrant.

On Monday, we will provide teachers and staff with the discretion to implement mask breaks in class while students are seated and physically distanced. Mask wearing can be relaxed outside during recess and physical education while following all other COVID-19 mitigation protocols. 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 maintain open schools and offices.

Our district is aware of the letter that New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky last Friday regarding potential 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; it has not changed any existing arrangements.

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 sometime Monday or later. The school district will review and evaluate the guidance before considering or making any changes to its COVID-19 protocols.

The health and safety of our students and staff remains our top priority as we prepare to finish this school year and plan for another. We thank you for your patience as we await formal guidance that will allow us to make any permanent changes to COVID-19 protocols.

Andrew Kourt
Superintendent of Schools