BY JESSICA TAYLOR
With judges going back and forth on the validity of the state mask mandate, the Port Washington Board of Education agreed on Tuesday night to continue requiring masks in schools until Feb. 1.
On Monday, a judge in Nassau County invalidated the state mask mandate, but on Tuesday an appellate judge issued a temporary stay, which reinstated the mandate.
Howard Miller, an attorney for Bond, Schoeneck & King, said there is going to be an argument on Friday on whether the stay should continue. “In the meantime by virtue of the stay, the mask mandate is back in effect,” he said. “Unfortunately we are left in a little bit of limbo for now.”
Board member Adam Block said “We actually have no choice but to continue the mandate because it has been put into effect, whether we want to or not.”
Board President Emily Beys questioned if the board was “prepared to make a decision” for the district to continue the mandate if the stay is not granted.
Trustee Rachel Gilliar interjected, saying that there is “massive amounts of uncertainty,” especially during the past two days.
Before Beys’ question could be answered, she said she believed the board should decide if it should continue to keep the rules in place until the next meeting on Feb. 1, “no matter what happens during the weekend.” The board unenthusiastically agreed to keep the rules intact until the next meeting.
Beys also said, “We need an exit ramp ready for when this mandate expires” on Feb. 15. “I think we can all agree on that this evening.” The board unanimously agreed on that sentiment.
Trustee Adam Smith took it one step further, pleading that “we stop wasting all of our meeting time focusing on this issue and get the board to make a decision.”
Superintendent Michael Hynes has met with other superintendents in Nassau and Suffolk counties and said that everyone is frustrated with the mandates. “We certainly hear your frustration as parents and that’s incredibly important to us, to this board and certainly to our administration,” he said. He concluded his statement by saying “we will work together with our administrators and teachers to make sure we have the best possible plan for your children.”
The board did not come to a final decision but agreed to have an exit plan or a draft by Feb. 15.