Hawley writes governor, saying no more ‘one-size-fits-all Covid mandates’ for schools

Posted 4 February 2022 at 10:01 am

Press Release, Assemblyman Steve Hawley

ALBION – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) has written a letter to Gov. Hochul at the behest of school districts within the 139th Assembly District requesting that she put forward guidance to school districts that would provide a “path to normalcy” by ending all state-mandated Covid-19 mitigation measures and returning control of such policies to local school districts.

“I am a firm believer that one-size-fits-all mandates are an inappropriate strategy,” Hawley wrote in his letter to Hochul. “The schools in my district are predominantly located in rural areas. In-school learning, supplemented by online learning as needed, was difficult at best in the beginning of the pandemic. The schools in my district developed plans, as best they could without reliable and accessible broadband.”

In recent weeks, school district superintendents throughout the state have called for the creation of such a plan, following an over 90% decrease in new Covid-19 cases statewide since infections peaked on Jan. 7.

“If we’re looking at the data to guide our decisions as policymakers, it’s become clear the time has come to restore authority to local school districts to make the best decisions possible for students in their communities,” said Hawley. “I’ve always been guided by the belief that local decision-makers know how to best serve the interests of their neighbors. Throughout the pandemic our rural school districts have managed to implement creative and effective solutions to comply with mandates, as difficult as that’s been with how many students lack reliable broadband access.

“If their rightful authority to design and enforce policies of this nature is returned to them, I’m certain the measures they choose to implement will be ones that both enhance the learning experience for students and protect their health, without disrupting their education.”

Editor’s Note: the 13 school district superintendents in Genesee and Orleans counties on Feb. 1 sent a letter to Gov. Hochul, asking for an “exit strategy” from universal masking in schools.

The superintendents asked Hochul 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 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.