Several local school districts make masks optional for outside activity

St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Christopher Rose said he has received guidance that masks were no longer required to be worn outdoors on school grounds, and has made them optional. Masks must still be worn inside the buildings and while on school transportation. Watertown Daily Times

BRASHER FALLS — Several local school districts have made the wearing of masks optional while outside, but masks must continue to be worn indoors.

Among them, St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Christopher Rose said he received guidance late Monday evening that masks were no longer required to be worn outdoors on school grounds.

“We will be following this guidance and as such will consider all outdoor time during the school day to be a mask break. Anyone wishing to wear a mask while outdoors is certainly welcome to continue with this,” he said.

Mr. Rose said the district will not require that masks be worn during sports practices, and Section 10 officials announced later Tuesday that they would no longer require masks at outdoor athletic events

“Now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released official guidance that gives schools the option to allow staff and students to not wear masks while outside, all of the school districts within Section X have adopted those new rules for the last few weeks of school. Therefore, mask requirements will be dropped for all athletes, coaches, officials, event personnel and spectators at outdoor Section X events. There will also no longer be a two spectator limit per athletes,” they said in a news release.

There is also no longer a need to provide names of spectators ahead of games, they said. But school districts will still need to follow rules for capacity limits at events.

“Everyone is still encouraged to maintain 6 feet of distance from people outside of their household,” officials said.

While masks were no longer required outdoors, that doesn’t apply to inside schools.

“Please understand that masks are still required inside the building and while on school transportation,” Mr. Rose said. “We will also continue to follow all other outdoor safety protocols regarding hygiene, appropriate distancing and cohorting as appropriate.”

He said the voluntary wearing of masks outside was “very welcome news and another great step toward normal times,” and thanked the students, staff and parents for their continued support and cooperation.

Following several days of confusion, state officials clarified COVID-19 rules Monday about when public school students must continue to wear facial coverings. Kindergarten through 12th-grade students no longer have to wear masks while outdoors, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, which streamlines mask-wearing rules for New York schools and summer camps.

“There is no mandate for masks outside,” Gov. Cuomo said Monday.

State Health Department Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker had sent a letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, writing that while inside, mask use would be strongly encouraged but not required for individuals who were not fully vaccinated. Vaccinated people would not have to wear masks anywhere on school grounds, he said.

In his letter to the CDC, Dr. Zucker asked them to let officials know if they shouldn’t move forward. He said state officials had planned to make the guidance effective on Monday. Local schools had informed their community members over the weekend that, until they received official guidance from the state, they would continue to require that masks be worn both inside and outside the buildings.

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