ITHACA, N.Y.—Schools in New York have been cleared to lift their COVID mask protocols as they see fit. After receiving the go-ahead on both the state and county levels, school districts are deciding how to proceed. Below are the schools that have announced changes to their mask policies, so this story will be updated as other announcements are made.

The local advisory is suspended as per data that the Tompkins County Health Department uses to cross-reference with the CDC’s community-level tracker.

Currently the CDC’s page is not updated and lists Tompkins County as “high,” but the county’s current data falls under the “low” based on the framework of fewer than 200 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. Additionally, over the past week, Cayuga Medical Center has seen fewer than 10 new COVID admissions per 100,000 at CMC, resulting in less than 10% of patient beds being occupied.

The TCHD expects the CDC’s site to list Tompkins County as “low” the next time the site is updated.

Ithaca City School District announced Feb. 28 (ironically the same day it had initially planned to drop only its outdoor mask policy) that masks will no longer be required indoors, outdoors on on school buses throughout the district.

ICSD Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown wrote in the announcement that ICSD will support those who decide to continue masking in public, but said that it is up to individual comfort levels and discretion. Anyone who experiences symptoms of COVID is still urged to stay home and get tested before returning to school.

Newfield will be taking the CDC’s community levels into account and basing guidance on transmission levels. “Really what we’re going to be doing is going with what the CDC is recommending. It’s always an option to wear a mask, that goes for indoors, outdoors and on buses, and we’ll look to do what everyone else is,” Superintendent Eric Hartz said.

The Trumansburg and Lansing school districts have also ended their mandatory mask policies, and moving forward, masks will be optional for students, faculty and staff indoors and outdoors. (Groton and Dryden presumably did the same, but we haven’t gotten the official word yet. If you have insight on either, feel free to drop us an email at zhessler@ithacavoice.com so we can confirm this).

Ithaca College announced this week that beginning March 4, all individuals regardless of vaccine status will not be required to wear a mask indoors unless clearly marked otherwise. Places still requiring masks to be worn include Emerson Hall, Hammond Health Center and all health profession clinics. The college also states that students still need to provide a negative COVID test before returning to campus after spring break.

Cornell University has not yet lifted its mask requirement, something Provost Michael Kotlikoff said will be based on scientific criteria and risk assessment specific to the community. “We plan to reassess our mask policy in mid-March using these data, as well as estimates of the risk of infection in various university activities if the mandatory indoor mask policy is modified,” he said.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...