It should not come as a shock to anyone that we wear masks not only to protect ourselves from infection but also to protect other people gathering with us in indoor public spaces. If this is a surprise, we have not learned much from the last 18 months.

So, as the COVID-19 pandemic hovers over a third school year, students and teachers will be required to wear face masks under a new state mandate by Gov. Kathy Hochul, regardless of vaccination status. This should not be a surprise, either, considering we’ve entered a new phase of the coronavirus.

Contrary to what you may have read or heard, the worst of the pandemic has not passed. We are simply experiencing a new version of COVID-19. The delta variant is on a global march. Infection rates and hospitalization rates are increasing to mid-pandemic levels, raising new fears of depleted health care resources. To borrow a phrase, “This thing is not over.”

The goal here is to return education to a semblance of normalcy. That means having students in classrooms five days a week for continuous in-person instruction, but safely and responsibly. We believe parents want the same thing for their children and for themselves, and that it is a small minority of parents who protest about children going an entire day wearing masks.

Children possess two qualities for which they don’t get enough credit. They are smart and they are survivors. Getting them back into a stable school environment is the first step. Keeping them healthy follows. We are confident our children will get through this.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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