Schenectady County

To mask or not to mask? Some officials recommend face covering in facilities

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While no mandates have been issued across Schenectady County, town municipal officials are urging residents to mask up in town facilities. 

A sign on Niskayuna Town Hall asks residents to put on a face covering as they enter the building. From there they have to do a health screening and have their temperature taken. In the Town Board meeting room, chairs are once again spaced 6 feet apart to promote social distancing. 

“It’s an ask, it’s not a mandate,” said Supervisor Yasmine Syed. “I think we have 100% participation among our employees.” 

The changes are due to rising COVID numbers across the county and new recommended guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone, regardless of vaccination status,  should wear a mask indoors in areas with a substantially high risk of transmission. 

Schenectady County currently meets that transmission level. 

Syed also said employees are not required to get vaccinated but it is strongly recommended. 

Duanesburg has kept up plastic screens but isn’t requiring people to wear masks either. 

“We’re waiting on the governor to make it official,” said Supervisor Roger Tidball. 

He said the town received complaints about people having to wear masks before. 

“It’s up to people whether they’re vaccinated or not to wear a mask,” he said, noting 99% of the employees are vaccinated. 

Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle said they follow the CDC’s guidelines requiring unvaccinated people wear masks. However, he said they don’t check someone’s vaccination status, instead relying on the honor system. Nonetheless, people are wearing them.

“We find that a lot of people coming in are wearing masks,” he said. 

The town is currently debating on marking seats so they are socially distanced for meetings, Koetzle said. 

“I think those precautions are something you’ll see us move toward,” he said. 

Princetown also isn’t requiring masks, according to Supervisor Louis Esposito. 

He couldn’t be reached for additional comment. 

The county has no plans at the moment to institute a countywide mask mandate. It did not indicate whether masks would be required in the county office building or at Legislature meetings.

“We are constantly reviewing the most up-to-date data and continue working with our union partners to find the best way forward that prioritizes the health and safety of our staff and those we serve,” said Erin Roberts, the director of public communications for the county. 

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said he is still reviewing guidance and data in the city and county before making any decisions. He said he’s encouraging people to get vaccinated, wash their hands and wear face coverings as needed or where appropriate. 

The county has been strongly encouraging its employees to get vaccinated, offering a personal day if they do. 

Union College was the first in the county to announce it is requiring masks indoors for people who are unvaccinated and strongly recommending everyone else wear them too. 

People are not required to wear masks when alone in an office or workspace or in residence hall rooms with roommates or while seated and eating or drinking, according to a press release from the college. 

With the recent uptick in cases, the college is also reviewing its policies on testing, indoor gatherings, travel and visitors. Updates to those policies should be released shortly, the release states. 

“The health and safety of our campus community continues to be our top priority. It is our hope these measures will be temporary,” states the release. “The College continues to make good progress toward our mandate that the campus be fully vaccinated by the start of fall classes. We remain committed to in-person learning in the fall and are optimistic that we will be able to offer our students a robust college experience this academic year.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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