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Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES and its 10 component school districts are maintaining current mask-wearing requirements in schools as of now, while officials await further guidance on potential changes to the rules.

Late in the day on Friday, June 4, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released a letter he sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying the state would ease the mask requirements in schools effective Monday, June 7, to align with guidance for youth camps unless the CDC advises the state before Monday, June 7, that it should not take this action.

During the afternoon of Sunday, June 6, the New York State Education Department provided guidance to schools that after communicating with state executive staff, it was determined that schools should continue to operate under their existing procedures until further notice and that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t make any changes until after Monday, June 7, to afford the CDC an opportunity to respond to the letter.

Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Sandra Sherwood and the 10 Herkimer BOCES component school superintendents agreed to not make any changes to mask-wearing requirements at this time. Each of the regional schools will consider implementing changes as soon as the proper state agency gives revised guidance.

The component school districts are Central Valley, Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Little Falls, Mount Markham, Owen D. Young, Poland, Richfield Springs and West Canada Valley.

It remains unclear how the CDC will respond to the letter, and school organizations including the New York State Council of School Superintendents and the New York State United Teachers union are recommending not to enact these changes at this time.

The state Department of Health letter outlines various changes to mask-wearing requirements for schools, but these changes will not be enacted in the Herkimer BOCES region at this time. The rules around mask-wearing in all school settings, social distancing, health attestations, limits to gatherings and quarantines are all still in place for schools.