Coronavirus News: Locust Valley starts first day of school in masks after letter from state

COVID-19 News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Students return to school in Locust Valley with mask mandate in place
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Candace McCowan has more on mask mandates for the first day of school.

LOCUST VALLEY, Nassau County (WABC) -- Students in the Locust Valley School District will wear masks on the first day of school Wednesday after the district's Board of Education received a threatening letter from the New York State Education Commissioner.

The Locust Valley School Board earlier this week revised its school reopening plan to include the mandatory wearing of masks.

On August 17, 10 days before the New York State Department of Health issued the universal mask mandate for schools, the board voted to allow parents to decide whether their child wears a mask to school.

The board also voted Monday night to hire an attorney to fight the state's universal mask mandate for schools.

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The Locust Valley School Board said after Monday night's board meeting it received a letter from state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa. The board read it to an audience of parents and students Tuesday evening.

"It is my expectation that the Board will set an example for its students by following the law. If not, however, you have been fairly warned of the potential consequences," the letter read.

The consequences, according to the letter, include restriction of state funding for the Locust Valley school system and removal of school board members and the superintendent.

The lawyer for the school board told the audience that the state health department's emergency regulation requiring masks in schools for the next 90 days is, in his law firm's opinion, as good as law and can be enforced as such.

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Some parents in the audience of the auditorium of Locust Valley High School expressed their displeasure at the board's decision to back down from the state. Others cheered when the board discussed its intention to follow the mask mandate for students.

Tuesday, the governor also addressing vaccine mandates among teachers, saying that while she would like to see everyone vaccinated, she is leaving the option for teachers who've not had the shot to instead get tested weekly.

"I think that's a compromise, but also, I want everyone vaccinated," Governor Hocul said. "I don't have the authority, I don't have the same executive power that was in place last year. But if I did, sure as I'm standing here, I'd mandate it."

The governor made it clear that the mask mandates are not open ended. When infection rates go down and vaccinations goes up, then masking could go away.

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