Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday held meetings with New York state teachers, superintendents and parents to thank them for their work to keep schools safe and open, and hear their input on how to continue smartly protecting against the coronavirus.
"As we continue to see cases and hospitalizations decline, I believe it is important to work closely with groups and leaders on the ground so that we move forward in the pandemic in a way where we can stay in front of COVID-19 and keep New Yorkers safe," Hochul said. "Keeping schools open has always been my top priority, and I want to thank the teachers, administrators and parents who joined me today to hear directly from them. I want to also remind parents and guardians to please get their children vaccinated, and boosted if eligible. The vaccine is safe, free, doctor-approved and the key to keeping our communities and vulnerable loved ones safe."
New York State Council of School Superintendents Executive Director Charles Dedrick said, "We are grateful that Gov. Hochul recognizes the value of hearing directly from superintendents and other people working in schools, and that she acknowledged our shared success in keeping schools open for in-person instruction for nearly all children, nearly all year. We believe that thoughtful changes to state requirements now can help sustain public acceptance of whatever requirements might remain necessary."
New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Robert S. Schneider said, "We appreciate the opportunity to speak directly with Gov. Hochul about her pending decision on whether to extend the mask mandate in schools. Like everyone, our members are ready to get past this pandemic and return to life as normal, and they want to do so in a way that keeps all of our students, teachers employees and their families safe. The governor, like school board members, must balance many different concerns and ultimately decide based on what's best for our students. The governor's receptivity to the viewpoints of the education community will undoubtedly result in an informed position and hopefully place us all in a better position to move forward."
Council of School Supervisors and Administrators Mark F. Cannizzaro said, "The CSA appreciates the governor's common-sense approach. We are hopeful that circumstances will soon allow for an easing of restrictions while maintaining a safe environment for students and staff."
School Administrators Association of New York Director of Government Relations Cindy Gallagher said, "The School Administrators Association of New York State was pleased to be invited by Gov. Hochul to discuss COVID-19-related guidance and possible considerations for modifying masking guidance. As the governor stated in her conversation today, it is important to have these conversations to understand one another's thought process. We appreciated that the governor felt that building administrators were trusted voices in their communities, and that our thoughts were important inputs into her decision making."
Conference of Big 5 School Districts Chairperson the Rev. Steve Lopez said, "We have worked tirelessly to return children to in-person instruction where we know they belong, and we are truly grateful for the resources the governor secured to enable us to address a plethora of health and safety issues and implementation of ‘test-to-stay’ programs. We do not want to erode any of the progress that has been made. We urge the governor to ensure that the state continues to follow the science as she considers the elimination of mask mandates. Any policy changes relating to the current school mask mandate must be implemented in a uniform fashion across the state by the New York State Department of Health. They should be tasked with establishing standardized metrics and a system for the state to make determinations, on a regional basis, pertaining to school mask mandates. This is not a responsibility that should be placed upon superintendents and school boards or already-stretched county health departments. Our families and our staff rely on us to keep them safe, and we are depending on the state to ensure that science drives any policy change."
New York State Parent Teacher Association President Dana Platin said, "We thank the governor for today's critical meeting and her continued partnership, and we join her in looking forward to a return to more normalcy in our school buildings. We have daily conversations with the governor's staff on the critical issues facing our schools, including frequent conversations on COVID-19 and the questions parents and families are looking for answers to – masking, distancing, quarantines, academic recovery, and academic and social emotional support for all students, and especially students with disabilities. While we may not always agree, after today's call, we are renewed in believing that the governor understands the concerns of parents and families from across the state, and we are proud to represent the PTA position on these matters. We will continue to work with education stakeholders, the governor, our State Education Department, and our Legislature so we can all see our children's smiling face once again, we hope in the near future."