Pioneer CSD decides to leave mask wearing to personal choice for both students and staff

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New York State DOH issued new guidance this week that allows for no masks to be worn outside, but masks still have to be worn inside schools.

The pioneer central school district is a small district in Cattaraugus County with just a few thousand students and they’ve decided to make wearing face masks optional for both students and staff.

“I felt that it was important to make a stand at this point. That consistent with other parts of their lives that mask wearing becomes a personal choice, which I respect completely,” said Benjamin Halsey, superintendent Pioneer Central School District.

It wasn’t a decision made lightly.

“I waited all weekend on the decision and it was late in the day on Sunday when I sent out my message that mask wearing, will be a personal choice. Right after I sent that message out, the state came out with a retraction and walked things back a little bit,” Halsey said.

The president of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association declined to comment on Pioneer’s decision, but says looking forward, home rule needs to return to school districts.

“I think we’re coming to the point, at which, there is limited efficacy to the state managing the day-to-day operations of school districts,” said Michael Cornell Superintendent, president of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association. “I think that day has just about arrived and local control of school districts needs to be restored to superintendents and boards of education.”

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