Mask ‘shenanigans’ confusing for schools

You are currently viewing Mask ‘shenanigans’ confusing for schools
Granville superintendent Tom McGurl

Recent scuttlebutt and back-and-forth decision-making on mask mandates inside and outside school and camp settings by New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) officials has created a massive headache for Granville school superintendent Tom McGurl.

McGurl announced to the Granville Board of Education at its monthly meeting on June 7 that the June 4 decision by the NYS DOH to allow fully vaccinated campers, students, faculty and staff to not wear a mask inside or outside and to not require, but highly encourage all parties who are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask was reversed that same weekend.

The announcement comes despite Washington County having its COVID-19 confirmed positive tests “come down significantly,” with only nine cases in the county by the time of the meeting.

“Earlier today (June 7), Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo held a press conference and stated that New York State would continue to require individuals to wear masks inside of school buildings. However, when outside, individuals will not be required to wear masks,” McGurl said in a statement on the school district’s website.

“Please note, at this time, the official guidance has not been released and school districts are unable to make any changes to our daily operational plans until the Executive Order is provided in writing. Once issued, it is our intent that if the mask requirement is lifted for outdoor activities, the Granville Central School District will follow that protocol.”

The “New York State mask-use shenanigans,” as McGurl referred to them, will make it harder for individuals dealing with the recent and upcoming heatwave. A robocall was being worked on at the time of the meeting to be sent out to families notifying them of the changes and that it would be acceptable for their child to take frequent mask and water breaks when socially distant.

McGurl added that he and the administration teams for the three district buildings will be encouraging teachers to hold in-person classes outside, weather permitting.

“There are no changes inside the building, so basically, it’s masks on at all times. Outside, it’s now okay to have your mask off, so get this one, kids can go out, they can play frisbee, they can play volleyball, they can do all of these things with their masks off, but they have to come back in with their mask on.” McGurl said at the meeting.

“In the meantime, we do have to follow these rules but we will be following them with a measure of reasonableness and the overall students’ safety and health in concern,” he said.

On June 7, Granville and the other BOCES school districts agreed to not enforce the mask mandate in areas where social distancing was able to be kept in effect due to the increase in the possibility of heat stroke or fainting. Masks were still required on the school bus and in non-socially distant settings.

As always, stay tuned to the Granville Central School District’s website and Facebook page for breaking news, announcements and developments from McGurl in regard to COVID-19.