ALBANY, N.Y. (UPDATED) – New York State is planning to relax mask guidelines for schools and summer camps, according to a letter state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday.
In the letter, Zucker cites the vague guidance between schools and youth camps, and the need for clear rules since many camps happen on school grounds.
Because of this, the state health department doesn’t plan to require students, campers or staff to wear masks indoors, even if they’re not vaccinated. However, each school or camp can choose to make stricter rules for their individual location.
The state plans to implement the following guidelines for both:
- Indoors, mask use will be strongly encouraged but not required for students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated.
- Outdoors, masks are not required; students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated are “encouraged” to wear a mask in certain higher-risk circumstances.
- Both indoors and outdoors, students, campers, and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks.
- Schools and camps may choose to implement stricter standards.
According to Zucker’s letter, this guidance will be effective Monday, June 7.
The New York State United Teachers union President Andy Pallotta issued the following statement regarding the decision:
“Announcing on a Friday afternoon that masks will now be optional for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in schools starting Monday — with only three weeks remaining in the school year — is whiplash-inducing news. Short of any additional guidance from the state or the CDC before Monday, we implore school districts to closely evaluate local conditions and connect with their educators and parents to decide the best course of action for protecting their school community.”
You can read the full letter below: