Several school districts in Ulster County say face masks no longer are required outdoors on school grounds.
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Among the districts that have announced relaxed COVID-19 mask rules are Kingston, Saugerties, Rondout Valley, Onteora, Ellenville, Marlboro and Wallkill.
“The guidance says New York state is no longer requiring face masks to be worn outdoors on school grounds, including during outdoor athletic games and practices,” Saugerties school district Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt said in a notice on the district’s website. “Therefore, effective immediately, mask use is no longer required outdoors on the grounds of the Saugerties Central School District.”
Reinhardt noted, though, that there “has been no change to the requirement for masks indoors and on school buses.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that masks no longer had to be worn in schools in New York state, but he withdrew that guidance over the weekend when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it still recommended face coverings in educational settings.
The Kingston school district posted on its website that it, like Saugerties, had received new guidance from the state Department of Health that masks do not have to be worn outdoors on school grounds. Also like Saugerties, though, Kingston said there masks remain mandated indoors and on buses.
Rondout Valley said in an online post that even though the guidance has changed, “students, teachers, staff or visitors may voluntarily continue to wear masks outdoors.”
By the numbers
Ulster County on Wednesday reported just 32 active cases of COVID-19, down from the 37 it reported Tuesday.
The county also reported only one new diagnoses of COVID out of the most recent 754 test results received, a rate of 0.1%.
Ulster has had a total of 15,188 confirmed cases of COVID since the local outbreak began in March 2020, including 14,892 recoveries and 264 deaths. No new deaths were reported Wednesday.
Dutchess County on Wednesday reported 105 active cases of COVID-19, nine fewer than the 114 it reported Tuesday. COVID-related hospitalizations in Dutchess were unchanged at six.
There have been 29,452 confirmed cases of COVID in Dutchess County since March 2020 and 445 COVID-related deaths. Like Ulster, Dutchess reported no new deaths on Wednesday.
Dutchess said its latest seven-day rolling average of positive test results is 0.6%.
Ulster and Dutchess counties each had peak totals of active cases above 2,500 in January, before the vaccination effort ramped up.
According to New York state’s online vaccine tracker, 108,623 Ulster County residents, or 60.8% percent of the population, had received at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine regimen as of Wednesday; and 96,279 (53.9%) had completed the vaccination series.
The state also said 70.6% of Ulster residents ages 18 and older had received at least one dose.
In Dutchess County, 163,582 residents, or 55.7% of the population, had received at least one dose as of Wednesday, and 142,042 (48.4%) were fully vaccinated, according to the state.
The state also said 65.5% of Dutchess residents 18 and older had received at least one shot.
In the schools
New York state on Wednesday reported just one new case of COVID-19 in area school districts — an on-site middle school student in Highland.
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