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New York State Mask Mandate Reinstated by Court Stay Order: 1/25/22
Dear RCSD Community,
Last night a New York State Supreme Court Judge in Nassau County issued a decision that school districts are no longer authorized to require face masks in schools. In accordance with the law, the RCSD notified the community that masks were optional in District schools this morning. In this case, to defy a judge’s ruling would have put the District in the position of being in contempt of court. We continue to adhere to all New York State laws and regulations pertaining to public schools.
This afternoon, an appellate judge heard an appeal filed by Governor Hochul and the State Department of Health to stay that decision and reinstate the indoor mask mandate requirement in schools. Minutes ago, the judge issued a stay on the indoor mask mandate pending the appeal hearing. Effective immediately, masks are once again required to be worn by all students, faculty, and staff within school buildings. The order states that oral arguments will begin on Friday, January 28. A final decision will be made by the court at some point thereafter.
We are as confused and frustrated as you are by what feels like regulatory whiplash. Over the past few months, I have repeatedly lobbied and continue to lobby, Governor Hochul, NYS DOH Commissioner Bassett, and other officials to put in place scientific metrics for the possible removal of masks within school districts based on a low positivity rate and other health factors in individual communities.
We will continue to monitor this evolving situation to alert you to any changes as soon as we learn of them. My apologies for the late notice earlier today. I received final confirmation on several legal questions early this morning from our attorney and sent the message shortly thereafter. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate these treacherous regulatory waters.
Eric Byrne, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools