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Message From the Superintendent Regarding the Use of Face Coverings

Dear Parents/Guardians:

Thanks to the careful planning and efforts of so many, the reopening of our schools has gone extremely well.  The support we have received from students, parents, and staff is one of the driving forces behind this success.  That same support is integral to our remaining open and teaching our students in person as much as possible.

The use of face coverings and physical distancing are two of the most effective ways to minimize viral spread.  While regulations only require the use of face coverings in situations where physical distancing of at least 6 feet is not possible, best practice is to wear a face covering and physically distance as often as possible.  We have discussed this at length and in great detail with the Oneida County Health Department and our school physician and have carefully reviewed the most recent guidance from the NYS Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The CDC states:

“Social distancing should be practiced in combination with other everyday preventive actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”

Based on the aforementioned, our District’s expectation is that students and staff maximize use of their face coverings even when physical distancing is possible.  Of course, maximizing the use of face coverings has different meanings for different students and situations.  All staff are aware that they have situational flexibility to allow for “mask breaks” as they deem appropriate and when it is safe to do so.  Temperature, activity level, age, and the number of students present are some of the key variables considered when making these decisions.  

Our ability to remain open for in-person learning is dependent upon our ability to implement and follow procedures and protocols aimed at minimizing both the potential that someone carrying the virus comes onto school property and the potential for viral transmission should that occur.  Daily health screenings and the implementation of our mitigation strategies are essential components of our plan.  

If ever there was a time our efforts need to be focused and unified, it is now.  Our goal is to afford our students and staff the greatest opportunity for in-person teaching and learning.  Remaining vigilant and disciplined in our efforts is vitally important to that effort.

The health and safety of our students and staff has been and will continue to be a top priority in our District.  Our decisions and actions are all aimed at our continued safe reopening of schools.  I hope this clarifies the District’s expectations and the rationale behind them.  If you have any additional questions, please contact your child’s teacher or building administrator.  Thank you for your understanding and continued support. 

Dr. Brian K. Bellair
Superintendent of Schools