BOE determines masks will be optional on school grounds effective March 2

During a special meeting held on the evening of March 1, the Monticello Board of Education approved a resolution to its COVID-19 mitigation plan, making mask-wearing optional for staff, students, and visitors effective Wednesday, March 2. 

The special meeting was called in response to Governor Hochul’s weekend announcement that the state’s mask mandate will expire on March 2, as well as updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that categorizes Sullivan County as having a “low” community risk level.  The CDC’s new model considers “hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.”

“The district has consistently followed the advisement of county, state and federal public health agencies throughout the pandemic,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Evans said. “We recognize that our mitigation strategies should adapt with the changing outcomes of COVID-19. With Sullivan County currently categorized as having a low community risk level, the district believes it’s appropriate to change our mitigation plan and make mask-wearing optional. Should the community’s risk level change in the future, the district will adapt its mitigation strategy again to reflect the most current guidance. We are committed to healthy and safe environments for all students and staff.”

Dr. Evans continued, “We are, however, awaiting updated guidance from the New York State Department of Health to determine whether it recommends or requires face coverings in schools for particular situations.  We’ll have another update once this is known.” 

The remainder of the district’s COVID-19 mitigation plan, outside of mandatory mask-wearing, will remain the same:

  • The district will continue its enhanced cleaning protocols, physical distancing when possible, and promotion of hand/respiratory hygiene. 
  • Students and staff members who are close contacts of a confirmed in-school COVID-19 case will still be notified, and will follow the Sullivan County Public Health Services’ decision guide to determine whether isolation or quarantine is necessary. Parents of unvaccinated students who wish to bypass quarantine requirements may opt into our Test-To-Stay protocol. 
  • Consistent with the New York State Department of Health guidelines, unvaccinated staff members will still be tested weekly. Optional weekly testing will still be available for students and vaccinated staff members. 
  • Any staff or student exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home and seek testing or care from a health care provider.