Le Roy waits out COVID-19 mask rules

A dispute among students over chalked messages has stirred a controversy at Le Roy Jr. Sr. High School. District officials say the matter has been investigated and resolved.

LE ROY — There are 10 days of school left in the year in the Le Roy Central School District and its superintendent is hoping the state guidance will be different when the new year starts in the fall.

“It’s going to be warm in September and the hope is that the masks are not on in September,” Superintendent Merritt Holly said of the current state requirement that students and staff wear masks when indoors or on buses.

“Schools have been the last to see change,” he said during Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. “No one wants kids to be in a hot location with a mask on. Those are the things we are working through and we’ll continue to do that for the last 10 days.”

Holly said the district will evaluate the journey it has taken this year the way it has all the way through.

“Part of our conversation will be where we’re at,” he said. “It’s unfortunate to be in a spot where we’ve talked about masks for the last couple of days really specifically , but even before that. We get where parents are at with their concerns and what’s going on. I think what it really comes down to when you talk and have conversation with them is COVID fatigue. They’re over it. Everyone’s over it.”

Holly said the other thing is when classes returned, there was the mindset that the required distance between people would be less than 6 feet.

“When that’s the case, we have a population — you’ve heard me say it for the last three meetings now — that won’t get the opportunity to get vaccinated yet — that Pre-k to-11-year-old population,” he said. “I think that looking ahead for the start of school is, what will that mean? September, what’s it look like for them?”

On the guidance from the state, Holly said, “Everything we’ve done since the start of the school year has been based on that guidance. Even when we came back, the CDC guidance was saying, ‘3 feet or less,’ They have not said that masks should come out of schools.”

Having them off outside, as Le Roy could when it held Decision Walk for the senior Wednesday would put a smile on people’s faces that could not be seen with masks on, he said.

“If you look at this school year and what we try to do is provide opportunity in moments where anything is but normal. I’m glad we got to the point where we are here, because I think, in September, we’re going to reap the benefits of that with whatever happens over the summer and whatever happens with the pandemic, with the numbers,” he said.

“When we talk about remote learning, we don’t know. We may not have to offer that,” Holly said. “We want to understand what our options are if it (remote learning) is mandated. That’s just one aspect.”

On Sunday, in a letter to board members, administrators, teachers and staff, parents and students, Holly said, “I empathize with all our family members and staff who are frustrated with this weekend’s ill advised communications and reporting from the news/media.”

He said in the letter that students, teachers, and staff will remain 100% masked indoors and on buses until the official guidance has changed. A statement from the state Education Department Sunday said schools should continue to operate under their existing procedures until further notice.

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