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Masking Update and Survey Results (February 11, 2022)

As you’re aware, the Pittsford Central School District emailed a survey to parents/guardians and staff on January 31 (closed Feb. 4). The purpose of the survey was to assess the level of support for a mask-optional policy – in the event Governor Hochul lifted the mandate and tasked districts across the state with making a local decision about masking.

View the survey results (including page numbers) here.

The survey revealed that 89% (slide 9) of parents/guardians and 92% (slide 12) of staff already support and/or would consider supporting a mask-optional policy this school year if one or more conditions existed. Among the conditions mentioned were the following:

  • A lower county infection rate;

  • Warmer weather as Spring approaches (post-April break); and

  • Access to free home test kits.

Other conditions included fewer hospitalizations in the region, lower PCSD infection rate, access to District-based testing, and access to free KN95 masks.

On Wednesday, February 9, Governor Hochul announced that the state would reassess the mask mandate for schools on March 4, looking at various metrics, including COVID-19 positivity rates in schools and within the state, hospital admissions, pediatric hospitalizations, vaccination rates and global trends in infection rates. Further, she shared that should the metrics continue to look favorable, she could lift the mask mandate for schools as soon as March 7. Until then, however, NYS school districts continue to be under a mask mandate.

As the District considers this potential shift in the mask mandate for our schools, we are developing a plan so that our staff, students, and families are ready to implement their own transition plan. Our District plan will take into consideration the recommendations from the medical community, as well as the survey results.

We are also preparing to ensure accessibility to KN95 masks, COVID-19 rapid tests, testing clinics, and other measures that aid in the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19. We’re considering numerous additional accommodations that may be necessary.

In addition, our Code of Conduct now reflects the District’s expectation that all members of our District community will demonstrate respect for the dignity of others who choose to wear – or not wear – a mask. In other words, mask and/or vaccine shaming will not be tolerated.

Should Governor Hochul lift the mask mandate in March, Pittsford Schools will be fully prepared to implement the shift to a mask-optional policy.

Since the onset of COVID-19, Pittsford Schools has proven adaptable and responsive to the changing mandates/guidance. This will continue. The District is now shifting our planning toward what a mask-optional environment will look like, including and especially for students and staff who are immunocompromised and/or have underlying health conditions.

We anticipate best practices and approaches to this are forthcoming from the Governor’s office. While this is a promising time for many, a change of this magnitude also brings worry, concern, and anxiety for others.

Know that the District will remain diligent in planning for a safe and respectful environment for all as we transition from a pandemic to an endemic mindset.