Closeup of Mr. Rich

As a school, we find ourselves in the middle of the controversy over masks. I say in the middle because we have families and employees on both sides of the mask issue. Some strongly support masks; others strongly oppose masks.

It seems we will soon see the end of the mask requirement in schools.

On Wednesday, Gov. Hochul laid out a plan to review the COVID data following winter break.  If the number of cases remains low, we are hoping that she will lift the school mask mandate in early March.  As a member of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, I know the organization has lobbied for the state to address masks. They and groups like the New York State School Boards Association and the School Administrators Association of New York State are all pushing for a data-based decision. Please understand that, as the Superintendent of Central Valley, I am part of that lobbying process.

I am confident these school groups will move a sensible plan forward.

Throughout the pandemic, we have taken great care to keep children safe.  We carefully followed the guidelines. We went fully remote, isolated our staff, and deep cleaned everything. We moved to a hybrid model when that became an option. And finally, we returned to in-person learning this fall.

When local and state agencies became overwhelmed, they turned to schools to step in. Suddenly we found ourselves forced to act as contract tracers, COVID testers, and mask enforcers. We stepped up to keep our schools open and to provide our students with academic and extracurricular activities. All the while, we struggled to balance the demand of some for safety and the demand of others for civil disobedience.

Which brings us to this place—a place where no one is happy. We are tired of our school being the battleground for debate over public policy. That belongs in Albany and Washington. We want to get back to what we do best—teach.

We look forward to the beginning of March. 

Jeremy Rich, Superintendent of Schools
Central Valley CSD