Jericho students wear masks for 1st day of school, some LI districts say masks optional

Thursday, August 26, 2021
Students go back to school masked up in Jericho
Derick Waller reports on the 1st day of school for students in Jericho.

JERICHO, Nassau County (WABC) -- It may not feel like the first day of school but, Jericho always starts earlier than everyone else. This year they are fully in-person with masks on. At least for now.

Teachers returned to school on Wednesday, on the eve of the first day of school.

Jericho Middle School Principal Donald Gately told Eyewitness News ditching remote learning was the right decision and so is requiring everyone to wear a mask.

The building houses both middle and high school students.

On Thursday, hundreds of kids streamed off their school buses with not one nose or mouth exposed.

Jericho's Schools Superintendent announced a mask mandate even before Governor Kathy Hochul directed to the State Department of Health to issue one.

It's a debate still raging in some Long Island communities; Should children be forced to cover their faces?

The superintendent says "Yes."

We had no kid-to-kid infections last year. We had no kid-to-adult infections and we had no adult-to-kid infections and again I attribute that to the vigilance in mask wearing," said Hank Grishman, Jericho Superintendent.

But what about mandating vaccinations?

Governor Hochul says it is her preference that teachers get their shots, but she concedes unlike with masking, she doesn't believe she have the authority to order vaccinations.

That's because Governor Cuomo had his emergency pandemic powers stripped by the legislature over his multiple scandals.

In Jericho, it reached 90 degrees Thursday and the district finished a major project just in time -installing air conditioning in every classroom.

Meantime, Massapequa, Farmingdale, and Commack school districts say they will not adjust their optional mask policies until they receive specifics from the New York State Department of health.

The Kings Park School District was set to be mask-optional this fall, but the superintendent said in light of the governor's order, the district will require masks.

ALSO READ | Hochul lays out priorities on COVID vaccines and school masks

New York's first female governor says she has one big priority: "I want people to believe in their government again."


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