MASSAPEQUA, NY — Following the ruling in County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s executive order from earlier this month, the Massapequa Board of Education voted this week to end the mask mandate in all district schools effective Feb. 21.
On Jan. 6, Blakeman signed an executive order that said the county would not enforce mask mandates handed down from the state, and also ordered boards of education across the county to vote on whether or not to mandate masks in their schools.
The Massapequa Board of Education, citing Blakeman’s order, voted on Thursday to end the mandate in its schools. It chose Feb. 21 as the date its order would go into effect because that is the date the current mask mandate is scheduled to end. The order passed the board unanimously.
“It makes no sense to be treating children in a school setting different than how we treat them in stores, restaurants, social gatherings and children’s parties,” said Board of Education Vice President Jeanine Caramore. “Why should school be a different situation? We are making them hate and fear school. Let’s make them love school again. Let’s let a kindergarten teacher see those smiles and hear an unobstructed giggle.”
This is not the first time the Massapequa Board of Education has fought back against mask mandates. The district was joined by Locust Valley last October in filing a lawsuit over the mask mandate. They challenged the governor and health commissioner’s authority to issue a state-wide mask mandate. That lawsuit was dismissed, and has been appealed.
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The school district also filed a lawsuit against Nassau County Section VIII when it canceled the 2020 fall sports season. The district argued that Section VIII did not follow the proper procedure in making its decision. That lawsuit was dismissed by the court.
“This is a battle we need support on,” said Board of Education Trustee Cher Lepre. “It can’t always just be Massapequa willing to take a stand.”
The legality of Blakeman’s executive order has been called into question. State officials said the county does not have the authority to override a state-issued order. But the Massapequa BOE said that while Gov. Kathy Hochul has verbally admonished Blakeman’s order, there has been no legal challenge from the state. That, they feel, bolster’s Blakeman’s claim.
The resolution that the Board of Education passed says it will be up to each staff member, student and visitor to the schools whether or not they wear masks.
“Lets teach children to be brave again and enjoy each other and school again,” Caramore said. “It’s time to be their voice and stand up for their constitutional rights.”