Parents Debate Mask Policy Ahead Of Glen Cove School’s First Day

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Full length profile shot of schoolchildren in uniforms walking in line and wearing protective face masks isolated on white background

With the first day of school for Glen Cove City School District students quickly approaching on Sept. 2, some parents are nervous about having their child wear a mask during class after doing so all of last school year.

Superintendent Dr. Maria L. Rianna during the summer sent out a letter to the community stating that the district will follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and will require all students and staff to wear their masks while indoors. The letter also stated that there will not be a remote option for students this year.

“As the new governor takes over, we are expecting by way of conversations that she’s had already that she will provide guidance and/or mandates in regards to school openings,” Rianna said during the Aug. 18 Board of Education meeting. “We await that information and will make adjustments as necessary.”

But during the public discussion, just like during the discourse around students wearing masks all across Long Island, some parents expressed their disagreement with the mask wearing policy.

Daniel Rios took to the podium to reference articles he saw that challenged the effectiveness of masks. “Some of you do not see, even though your children may adapt well, the difficulty and the problems of wearing masks, especially for fifth grade and under,” Rios said. “That age is when they’re most affected. I do not think you’re doing your work honestly if you think masks work. I think it’s upsetting to me. I think it’s upsetting to a lot of the public that you do not see this.”

Lauren Bannon of Glen Cove expressed discomfort of having her incoming kindergartner having to learn behind partitions around his desk while wearing a mask.

“Our family has so much anxiety and stress about him entering kindergarten, just for him entering kindergarten, and then everything coming with it,” Bannon said. “We are so concerned about his little body sitting at a desk with barricades and a mask and not gathering information… I can’t even drop my kid off into the school because of everything going on.”

She then asked the Board of Education if they could leave the mask wearing up to the parents.

“We consider the health and safety of all of our students and all of our staff,” Rianna said in response. “Bringing your child to kindergarten on a normal year is anxiety ridden for a lot of parents, but I do want to assure you that our staff, our principals welcomed children under COVID conditions in a very positive manner. We had mask breaks throughout the day. We have guaranteed that there are assistants in the class. We have planned as many outdoor instructional activities as possible. We’ll continue to consider all information before the start of school.”

Trustee Angela Raimo added that she has a child that was in elementary school and one entering kindergarten as well, and that she was shocked last year at how easily the children adapted to the COVID-19 regulations.

“I thought the masks and the barricades would be nerve wracking, but they did so well and they spent so much time outside,” Raimo said. “They loved it. They loved having lunch and snack outside and experiencing the garden. They did a great job and I think the kids will do very well, just like they did last year.”

Board president Lia Leone also assured Bannon that the faculty at Glen Cove’s elementary school are “fantastic.”

“I’m telling you within a week you’ll find out that you have zero to worry about,” Leone said. “I’ve been a teacher myself for 23 years, so I’m living this as a parent, a teacher and as a board member and I get your frustrations. It’s so unfortunate that we have to be doing this, but I do think that the kids are really in good hands and are well taken care of.”

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