South Lewis Central School District strengthens mask policies for student

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TURIN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Starting on Thursday, students in the South Lewis Central School District will be required to follow a new mask mandate.

South Lewis Superintendent of Schools Douglas Premo announced in a press release to the community on Wednesday that changes have been made to the District’s indoor masking policies. This will include masking on busses, indoors, what type of masks students must wear, and when not required.

According to Superintendent Premo, these strengthened policies were implemented after ten students have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week. The ten cases have also placed over 100 students in quarantine. He added that some of these student cases have been in the same grade level, which is causing concern regarding the potential school-wide transmission of the coronavirus.

Beginning September 23, the District will require masks to be worn at all times on the bus and at all times indoors. Students will not be required to wear masks when eating, drinking, or outdoors and mask breaks will be given when possible. Masks must also have at least two layers.

“We attempted to start the year with ‘flexible masking’ practices allowing for the majority of ones’ day to be spent mask-free,” Premo said in a press release. “However, this has sent us down a path that is leading towards the inevitable closure of school for in-person instruction and full remote learning for all. In response, the District has determined that we need to adjust our masking practices to protect and preserve in-person teaching and learning.”

Premo added that this new policy will result in less exposure and significantly fewer students placed into quarantine. As per New York State Department of Health guidelines, students are required to quarantine if they are exposed to a COVID-positive student within six feet, for 15 minutes or more without a mask. However, if both students are masked, students will only be quarantined if the physical distance is less than three feet.

“Our number one goal has been to keep our students, faculty, staff and school community safe while protecting the ability to offer everyday in-person instruction for all,” Premo concluded. “This change in masking practices helps us achieve this goal.”

These changes were made following approval from the South Lewis Central School District Board of Education on September 22.

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