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NYS PTA Comments on COVID-19 Guidance in Schools

For PDF Version, see HERE.

The New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. (NYS PTA) is proud to represent nearly 250,000 members of NYS PTA, and the parents and families of 2.6 million New York school children.  We are highly concerned with recent decisions and confusion over usage of masks in schools, and offer these comments.  

First, conflicting messages have led to significant confusion for parents, families, students, educators and schools. Clear communications, especially given constantly evolving data, are critical for meaningful parent and family engagement. 

Many parents and families across the state, based on a NYS Department of Health memo released on Friday, assumed their children could attend schools on Monday with a revised indoor mask-optional policy. 

We had multiple conversations with state leaders over the weekend, and since, regarding the confusion that this memo caused. While this memo was thankfully later clarified by the State Education Department Sunday, and the Governor’s Office Sunday evening, parents and families were left with great uncertainty for several days, and continued to receive mixed messages still on Monday.  It appeared as if children and families were given a much-needed break, only to lose it again.  This was unfair to our families, who have been supportive of many of the COVID-19 safety priorities, aside from struggling themselves during this pandemic.

Moving forward, we implore state leaders to work with federal officials on clear and consistent messaging for parents and families.

Second, during the pandemic we have supported decisions for student and school safety based on the analysis of current data, including a review of daily infection and positivity rates, reproduction values, hospitalization and death rates, and more recently vaccination rates.

It is our understanding that the CDC informed NYS on Monday morning that the CDC will NOT revise its guidance for NYS schools on usage of masks for indoors, as the CDC has one set of guidance for all states, and will not vary by state.  We find this decision to be unacceptable because of New York’s extremely low positivity rate and high vaccination threshold compared to other states.  We will be requesting the CDC to make these decisions on a state-by-state basis.

While we always prioritize student and educator safety, we fully believe, based on a review of current COVID-19 data, a review of this CDC decision is warranted.  

We will continue to communicate our positions to all state parties, and the CDC, with a request for review of the CDC guidance on indoor mask mandates in schools. Therefore:

Data from June 8, 2021 reviewed:

The regional positivity rate is below:

RegionSunday, June 6, 2021Monday, June 7, 2021Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Capital Region0.61%0.57%0.49%
Central New York0.85%0.81%0.76%
Finger Lakes0.98%0.91%0.81%
Long Island0.46%0.45%0.42%
Mohawk Valley0.74%0.69%0.64%
New York City0.43%0.43%0.42%
North Country0.50%0.56%0.53%
Southern Tier0.67%0.69%0.65%
Western New York0.66%0.61%0.54%

Know that NYS PTA will continue to advocate for parents and families, each and every day.  In February 2021, NYS PTA was extremely honored to receive the National PTA Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award for COVID-19 Pandemic and Racial Justice and Equity Advocacy Efforts. Read more here:

Please review our NYS PTA COVID-19 resource page here:

Together, we will shine a light on every child, with one voice.