Letter 3/1: Masking to become optional in schoolsMarch 1, 2022
Dear Oswego City School District families,
I hope that everyone is settling back into their normal routine after a relaxing break. I am writing to provide an update on events this past weekend concerning masking in schools.
On Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul held a press conference regarding mask requirements in schools. Citing continuous downward trends in COVID-19 positivity rates, hospitalizations and severe illness throughout the state coupled with increasing vaccination rates, Gov. Hochul announced the statewide mask requirement in schools for grades UPK through 12th will be lifted effective Wednesday, March 2.
The governor’s announcement aligns well with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance released Friday. We have also seen COVID numbers decline throughout the Oswego district and communities while vaccination rates continue to rise. Considering all of this information, following our Board of Education discussion this evening we have decided that starting tomorrow, Wednesday (3/1/22), students and staff will have the choice to wear face coverings at OCSD buildings and on buses.
Students and staff will need to process this change. We know that in our district we will have students and staff who will choose to continue wearing masks, some who will not and some who are unsure what they will do. We also know that some may wear a mask based on how close they are to others or if they are in a large crowd. Please know, bullying or harassment related to one’s choice of whether to wear a mask or not will not be tolerated.
I also want to reiterate that as Oswego CSD buildings and buses prepare to move from “masks required” to “masks optional” on Wednesday, March 2, we will:
- Allow parental choice with respect to whether or not children will be masked while at school
- Continue to ensure and encourage mitigating strategies where possible (social distancing, handwashing and sanitizing, etc.)
- Continue to make available masks, hand sanitizer and rapid COVID-19 test kits to all students and staff
- Offer families the option of having their children participate in weekly district COVID-19 testing
- Continue to maintain current spacing in cafeterias for lunch
- Continue to have our custodial staff regularly clean desks and frequent touch points; and
- Continue to maintain the district's website with information and links to positive case numbers in our district
- Continue to monitor all behavior connected to masking (including DASA reporting)
- Continue to encourage vaccination and report local vaccination opportunities
As our district prepares to adapt to this change in masking requirements, we have developed conversation starters (https://docs.google.com/document/d/15qrceAuzoRasIInvk8Sy6uHjOoPr7AZMbNyqxf2Ic30/edit?usp=sharing) that may be help with conversations and questions surrounding these changes.
Above all, please remember to keep your child home if they are feeling ill. We will share further guidance from the state as we receive it and continue to contact you with important updates as they impact our learning community.
Thank you for your continued and anticipated support as we implement these changes. Please reach out to your child’s principal with any questions or concerns.
Yours in Education,
Dr. Mathis Calvin III
Superintendent of Schools