During an emergency meeting on Sunday evening, the Sachem Central School District Board of Education voted to make mask-wearing optional. Students have been required to wear face masks since the beginning of the school year because of COVID-19.
The vote came in opposition to the New York State Board of Education, which on Sunday sent a letter to all school districts statewide clarifying masks are still to be worn, at least for the moment.
The Education Department’s letter came following State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker on Friday announcing that masks would be optional effective Monday as the virus spread has slowed and vaccinations are available. Zucker sent the policy change in a letter to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the letter, Zucker said the state plans to move forward with the new policy unless the CDC could offer any information countering it.
However, as part of the Sunday letter to school districts, the Education Department said existing mask-wearing requirements remain in place until the CDC has a chance to offer input on Monday.
Sachem’s Board of Ed scheduled the emergency meeting to discuss the state's masking-wearing updates. After significant discussion, the Board voted to approve making masks optional effective Monday.
“For the reasons that everyone stated earlier…there was clear guidance given on Friday…Masks are optional,” said School Board President Alex Piccirillo immediately following the vote.
Sachem Schools District Superintendent Chris Pellettieri is expected to send a letter to the community on Sunday evening with information about the change.