No change to schools' mask mandate after Nassau County executive order

Kristin Thorne Image
Thursday, January 13, 2022
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Kristin Thorne has the latest on the ongoing fight over mask mandates in Nassau County schools.

NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- One week after Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signed an executive order allowing school boards to decide whether students wear masks in schools, not one school district has changed their mask policies.

"They're getting bullied," Blakeman told Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne on Wednesday.

Blakeman said school board members have told him privately that they feel threatened by Governor Kathy Hochul and state officials.

"I can understand why the school boards don't want to do it," he said.

Hochul implied last week, after Blakeman signed the executive order, that the State Education Department would withhold funding from any school district that decides to rescind the mask mandate.

"Can you imagine? They want to take money away from our kids because their parents don't want them to wear masks," Blakeman said.

The Long Beach School District sent a message to families stating the district would not be changing its mask policy because state law governs schools.

"The Long Beach Board of Education is not bound by the County Executive's recent pronouncement/authorization concerning the mask mandates," the letter said. "Our primary concerns continue to be maintaining continuity of instruction Pre-K through 12 while providing for the health and safety for all within our school community."

The Massapequa Board of Education, which sued the state over its school mask mandate, discussed Blakeman's executive order, but decided not to pursue a change in the district's mask policy at this time.

Nassau County Council of School Superintendents President Dr. Tonie McDonald released the following statement:

"Elected Boards of Education throughout the state must abide by the law regarding all decisions pertaining to the operation of school districts. School Boards of Education must comply with the directives provided by the New York State Commissioner of Education, the New York State Board of Regents, the State legislature, and the Governor of the State of New York. In this case, we have received a directive from the NYS Commissioner of Education, Betty Rosa, which requires the wearing of masks in schools. Failure to do could result in disciplinary actions for board members and administrators as well as financial consequences for school districts."

ALSO READ | CDC says it will update mask 'information' amid COVID surge

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