NISKAYUNA – Niskayuna Central School District students and faculty will be required to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status, upon returning to school this fall.
However, the district has stopped short of requiring vaccines.
During Tuesday’s school board meeting the board listened as Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra and Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Marie Digirolamo presented the plan, which includes following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ guidelines.
“The plans that we have in place are based on the information that we have at this point,” Tangorra said.
Because Schenectady County has a high risk of transmission level the district will start off with some of the strictest guidelines that have been recommended by the CDC.
Some of the actions the district will take are:
- Having masks worn by everyone inside building.
- Having 3-feet social distancing to the extent possible both indoors and outdoors.
- If 3-feet social distancing cannot be met outside people must wear masks.
- Facemasks are required on buses.
- Daily cleaning and sanitizing will continue.
- Pooled testing of 20% of the unvaccinated student and staff population per week.
- Contract tracing and quarantining will follow CDC guidelines for those who are vaccinated versus those who are not.
- 6-feet social distancing to the extent possible for lunch.
- 3-feet social distancing to the extent possible and masked for recess, when students are engaged in gym class.
- No visitors on school grounds except for official business.
Parent Jennifer Clift, during the public speaking portion of the meeting, urged the board not to mandate masks. She said people have insulted her for her decision to advocate for not wearing masks – even going as far as calling her a murderer and saying she shouldn’t be left alone with children.
“I’ve come to advocate for choices and for as normal a life as possible and for the district to set very clear parameters on what’s safe enough,” she said. “When does this end because there will be another variant and then another one and then another one or a new illness?”
She asked the school board to consider the trauma kids suffer by having to wear masks and their emotional wellbeing. Clift said her daughter hates wearing the mask, even wanting to quit a summer school program because she was frustrated over wearing a mask.
However, Tangorra said that while he hates wearing the masks too it may be the new normal.
“We can’t compromise safety for what feels normal,” he said. “We just can’t do it.”
People can attend a virtual meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. about the reopening plans. Following a presentation there will be a question and answer portion.
That meeting can be accessed via this link https://neric.webex.com/neric/j.php?MTID=m8c84f328aeb5c9dea08a158b49b6c844 and using the password NCSD21 if prompted. People can also join by phone by dialing 1-646-992-2010 and entering access code 180 733 3058.
An early version of this story misidentified the person presenting the school’s return to school COVID-19 prevention plan with Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra as BOCES Deputy Superintendent Lauren Gemmill. It was, in fact, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Marie Digirolamo. That has been corrected.