At Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, Sag Harbor School Superintendent Jeff Nichols announced two updates to mask and social distancing protocols that, in essence, do not amount to much of a change when it comes to the way the district has been operating in recent weeks.
In a press conference earlier in the day, governor Andrew Cuomo stated that, after consulting with officials from the Centers for Disease Control, he was not comfortable relaxing the mask mandate for students and faculty inside of schools, but said masks will not be required for students and staff when they are outdoors — mirroring the current CDC guidance.
Optional mask-wearing while outdoors has been a policy for most districts in the area recently, but Mr. Nichols said that the district was not yet ready to unveil any kind of mask protocols for large-scale outdoor events like graduation, saying he expects the guidance on that may change and shift in the coming weeks.
There had been some commotion late last week and over the weekend, as rumors were circulating that the state would possibly relax or even eliminate the indoor mask requirement for schools.
Mr. Nichols added that the district would also now fully move to a 3-foot social distancing requirement from the recent six-foot requirement. That move had already been made in the elementary school, but it is now a district-wide policy. Mr. Nichols said that the choice to reduce that social distancing requirement was made because the alternative would have been moving back to a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning. Several students who started the year in fully remote learning have since returned to in-person learning, making the 6-foot social distancing requirement impossible to comply with in a few classrooms. Mr. Nichols said he felt comfortable relaxing the distancing from 6 to 3 feet in those classrooms, especially with the indoor mask mandate remaining in place. He also pointed out that Sag Harbor is one of the last districts to fully move to the 3-foot requirement, saying many surrounding districts made that move back in early April.
Monday night’s meeting lasted just half an hour, with no public input and no updates on the district’s contract negotiations with Mashashimuet Park. Their three-year contract with the park to host interscholastic sports expires this month. Contract negotiations broke down at the end of last month, and the district announced it would not renew its contract with the park, although both parties have been in contact since then and there is still hope they might come to a resolution.