Roslyn school district to require masks

The Roslyn Union Free School District announced a mask mandate for the upcoming school year hours before Governor Kathy Hochul's similar mandate. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

The Roslyn school district announced at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday morning that it would initiate a mask mandate for students, visitors and staff, hours before Gov. Kathy Hochul instituted a mask mandate for all school districts in the state for the coming school year. 

The move in Roslyn followed similar steps by nearby school districts such as Port Washington, New Hyde Park-Garden City Park and Mineola to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

The health and safety protocols, released last week on the district’s website, say “indoor mask use will be universally required for all students and staff. This practice will reduce the number of quarantine cases that result in an interruption of learning time.”

The safety provisions for when classes begin Sept. 1 include three feet of social distance where practical for indoor locations and normal transportation schedules with masks at all times. The district will not offer remote learning options, in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Association of Pediatrics, unless transmission rates rise. 

Allison Brown, superintendent of schools, said filters and air conditioning have been installed in educational spaces, which will supplement air purifiers to increase air quality and ventilation. 

The initiatives by Roslyn, neighboring districts and Hochul have been lauded by education associations. The School Administrators Association of New York State said in a statement Wednesday that it “was pleased that Governor Hochul’s priorities … include a focus on safely returning to in-person learning in New York State Schools.”

Much of the public that attended the Board of Education meeting Tuesday did not share the  sentiment. 

Roslyn resident Barbara Kaplan said: “I have read dozens of articles from well credentialed and well educated people who have repeatedly stated the same facts. COVID-19 particles go through masks like mosquitoes through a chain link fence. Viruses also enter our body through our eyes and our skin. I don’t think we want to recommend hazmat suits for our kids, but that would apparently be the only effective barrier.” 

Similar thoughts were shared by the public. Consideration of bringing plexiglass into classrooms that children can use at their leisure was requested by one speaker, and others pleaded to keep control in the hands of parents instead.

“Kids are being victimized,” said another resident. “It’s just evil.”

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