Herricks school board OKs mask mandate

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Herricks school board OKs mask mandate
The Herricks Public Schools Board of Education mandated masks a few days after Gov. Kathy Hochul's similar initiative. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

The Herricks Board of Education adopted COVID-19 prevention protocols Thursday night that include masks for all individuals. The mandate is part of the school reopening plan, created by Superintendent Fino M. Celano, and follows the mask mandate Gov. Kathy Hochul instituted for school districts statewide. 

The reopening plan for schools, which began classes Tuesday, is posted on the district website and says, “The district continues to derive guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the New York State Department of Health, and the New York State Education Department (SED) to ensure all our students and staff return safely to in-person learning and teaching.”

Herricks’ adoption follows neighboring school districts that have initiated mask mandates. 

Also included in the reopening plan are provisions for social distancing, transportation and contact tracing. 

“Random temperature checks will occur for students and staff,” the plan says. “Parents should check your child’s temperature daily.”

There was no public comment from the audience when given the chance to speak during the meeting. 

Last Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul, who replaced Andrew Cuomo after his resignation, said at a news conference: “My number one priority is getting children back to school and protecting the environment so they can learn safely. I am immediately directing the Department of Health to institute universal masking for anyone entering our schools.”

Hochul said the state will use $335 million in federal funds to launch a program that will provide coronavirus testing in each school district. She also advocated for teachers and staff members to be vaccinated, but aims to arrange weekly testing for those not vaccinated.

According to CDC guidelines, a close contact is defined as someone who was within six feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period, two days after the illness began. Any individual in close contact with someone infected is required to stay home for 10 days after exposure.

Teachers and staff members in public school districts throughout New York City are required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus vaccine, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Aug. 23. Roughly 148,000 school employees will be required by the city to have at least a first dose by Sept. 27.

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