New York officials believe students should be prepared to wear masks in school.

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The CDC recommended all school children wear masks in the classroom this fall.

"This includes schools, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.

On Thursday, New York State Department of Heal Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said school districts should follow guidance from the CDC as they develop plans for in-person school this fall.

"With the end of the state disaster emergency on June 25, 2021, school districts are reestablished as the controlling entity for schools. Schools and school districts should develop plans to open in-person in the fall as safely as possible, and I recommend following guidance from the CDC and local health departments," Zucker stated.

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The New York State Department of Education wants health experts to release safety guidelines for this upcoming school year, rather than leaving the decision up to individual school districts.

"While the nature and extent of COVID-19 and its variants are still dynamic, it is essential that schools receive whatever guidance the Governor and the DOH intend to offer about the 2021-2022 school year as soon as possible to provide time for you to take necessary measures to safely welcome students in September," New York State Education Department Commissioner Betty A. Rosa wrote in a letter to districts.

A growing list of local schools issued their own guidance this week, mandating students wear masks in the classroom.

In a letter to districts, the education department said until rules are announced, schools should follow the recommendations of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"The Governor’s staff has informed the Department that guidance from DOH is in development and the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will serve as its basis. Therefore, the best the Department can offer to schools when it comes to health-related preparations for September is that CDC guidelines should be the basis of preparing for the 2021-2022 school year until further information is issued by the Governor or DOH," Rosa stated. "The urgency and frustration you are feeling as September approaches is palpable and is shared by the Department."

The New York State Education Department believes students should take their classes in person. But warned school districts, students, parents and teachers should be ready to transition to remote learning if a public health emergency is declared.

"In case of school closures due to a declared public health emergency, schools must be prepared to provide remote instruction," Rosa stated. "While the Department will not require schools that are open for full-time, in-person instruction to provide on-line or remote instruction, districts may work with students and families to offer remote options if it is deemed to be in the best educational interest of the student Districts should consider the value of on-line capacity developed in response to the pandemic to expand programmatic offerings and to offer remote learning opportunities that are responsive to student needs."

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