Monroe County school districts plan to adopt new mask mandates upon reopening

Bizar Male

The president of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents said Tuesday that local districts are still playing the “wait and see” game with the state’s education department as the start of the school year quickly approaches and the delta variant becomes a bigger concern.

“I think we have a better sense of what the guidance will probably look like,” said Rush-Henrietta Superintendent Bo Wright. “But there is somewhat of a guessing game involved until you actually see the guidance for sure.”

Wright said the consensus among his colleagues is that in-person learning will happen, despite not having solidified state guidance.

“All of us are committed to making sure that, whatever the circumstances are, kids have the opportunity to come back to school for five days a week in-person instruction,” Wright said.

He said distancing requirements may be a significant challenge. In its most current guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended 3 feet spacing within classrooms, combined with indoor mask-wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated.

However, as the delta variant continues to pose a threat, the new recommended guidance, which the county has adopted, is that all residents mask up while indoors. 

“It’s safe to say that there will be some sort of a masking requirement given what’s happening with the variant, and based on what we’re seeing recommended by the CDC,” said Wright.

The state’s education department has recommended that school districts use the updated CDC guidance to prepare their reopening plans. Wright said those plans may differ among districts.

“It’s based on the wants and the needs within the community, the size of the district, available resources, staffing, and also how many students are interested in enrolling in a remote learning academy,” Wright said.

Wright said about 90% of teachers in each district are completely vaccinated. As for mandating vaccinations, he said they are still reviewing the legalities of that enforcement.

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