Genesee, Orleans schools seek local control with masking, pandemic response

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 February 2022 at 8:09 am

13 school superintendents ask governor for ‘exit strategy’ from universal masking

The 13 school district superintendents in Genesee and Orleans counties sent a letter on Tuesday to Gov. Kathy Hochul, asking her to get away from “one-size-fits-all mandates” with universal masking and Covid testing.

The school leaders said those mandates from the state “caused unnecessary challenges for us.”

The superintendents cited the example of school leaders in the Saratoga Springs region which appealed to Hochul and the State Department of Health to develop a “Pathway to Normalcy” and identify an exit strategy with universal masking. The Genesee and Orleans school leaders said they support the state DOH developing guidance to shift away from the current mask requirement in schools.

However, that “pathway” should be guidance from the state, while the Genesee and Orleans schools work with their local health department to develop plans for their schools.

“With that in mind, local control should be fully restored to all school districts in New York State because the needs of each region differ, and we are fully capable of navigating the remainder of the school year with input from our local DOHs (departments of health),” the letter stated.

The superintendents asked Hochul and state Department of Health to develop guidance for “mitigation measures, but not mandates,” with local control “fully restored to our school districts to enable us to make decisions appropriate for our individual communities, in consultation with our local DOH.”

The letter was signed by the district superintendents at Albion, Alexander, Batavia, Byron-Bergen, Elba, Holley, Kendall, Le Roy, Lyndonville, Medina, Oakfield, Pavilion and Pembroke.