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Confusion regarding school mask mandates, changes not approved by State Education Department

Child Mask

NEW YORK (WRGB/WBNG) — Officials say the guidance set by the state to change mask policies in schools has been put on pause.

School districts planned to make a change on Monday after the Department of Health issued a memo that would allow schools and summer camps to no longer enforce mask-wearing rules, making them optional.

But on Sunday, the New York State Department of Education said it was not ready to authorize that change.

On Friday, State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker wrote a letter to the CDC which stated that the state would no longer require masks for schools or camps, even for people who are not vaccinated.

Zucker wanted to align guidance for schools and camps and clear up inconsistencies.

The letter said the guidance would go into effect Monday, as long as the CDC didn’t disagree.

Now, CBS News 6 in Albany says an email from the State Education Department was sent to school Superintendents instructing them to not make any changes to masking policies.

An excerpt of the email per News 6 states in part,

"SED has been in communication with Executive staff regarding the attached letter from Dr. Howard Zucker, New York State Commissioner of Health. According to conversations with Executive staff, the intent of this letter was to obtain a response from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding differing standards for summer camps and schools; it has not changed any existing arrangements. Therefore, schools should continue to operate under their existing procedures until further notice. No changes have been, or will be, made by the Executive until after Monday June 7 to afford the CDC an opportunity to respond to the letter."

Letter to NYS School Superintendents from the State Education Department excerpt

Many schools have responded by saying their masking policies would not have changed regardless of state guidelines.

This is a developing story.

Abigail Lane

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