Long Island

Locust Valley School District Takes on Fight Against New York's Mask Mandate

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What to Know

  • The Locust Valley School Board on Long Island voted Monday night to wage a legal challenge to the mask mandate.
  • Some parents had urged school officials there to defy the state's health department requirement that all students and staff have to wear masks.
  • New York Gov. Kathy Hochul had been firm on reimplementing the mask mandate in schools since taking office early last week, but official word from the state didn't come until late Friday.

A school district in New York has taken a dramatic turn in the debate over the state's mask mandate in schools.

The Locust Valley School Board on Long Island voted Monday night to wage a legal challenge to the mask mandate.

Some parents had urged school officials there to defy the state's health department requirement that all students and staff have to wear masks.

Before the mandate, the school district had adopted a mask optional policy.

The new school year is set to begin Wednesday and the school board is going to hold another meeting Tuesday night to further discuss the topic.

In a statement following Monday's meeting, the Board said: "This evening the Board acted on the School Reopening Plan.  Following the Board meeting, we were advised by legal counsel that the failure to adhere to the requirement that masks be required to be worn in school is a violation of the law. In light of our consultation with legal counsel, the Board will be reconvening for a Regular Meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 4:30 pm in the Locust Valley HS/MS auditorium to discuss this matter further and make an additional determination concerning this requirement."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul had been firm on reimplementing the mask mandate in schools since taking office early last week, but official word from the state didn't come until late Friday. A spokesperson confirmed an official order requiring that students, faculty and staff for all grade levels wear face masks in both public and private schools.

"The Department has filed an emergency regulation requiring all students, faculty and staff of all public and private schools (P-12) in New York State to wear masks inside school buildings," the statement read. "Public and private schools/districts across the State have been notified by the Department."

The mask order had been expected to come by the end of Hochul's first week as the state's first female governor. The public safety measure comes at a time when children under the age of 12 have yet to get approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, and a nearly out of control variant makes up the majority of new cases.

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