The regulation covers prekindergarten through 12th grade, according to health...

The regulation covers prekindergarten through 12th grade, according to health department spokeswoman Jill Montag.  Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Face masks are to be mandated inside all public and private school buildings under an emergency regulation filed by the state health department, a spokeswoman said Friday evening.

The regulation covers prekindergarten through 12th grade, according to health department spokeswoman Jill Montag. An email about the regulation was sent to 5,000 different email addresses, including schools and districts, she said.

Earlier this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul said about school masking: "Get used to it, my friends! I’m going to make sure that that environment for school is safe for our children, teachers, and administrators."

Jericho Superintendent Henry Grishman said he had not received the mandate in either an email or text by 7:30 p.m. Friday, but expected he would get it later in the evening.

He applauded the decision. His district already had decided to have masks in schools, he said.

"I’m very glad the New York State Department of Health has reaffirmed the decision by our board of education" this month, he said.

He said other educators he had spoken to also agree on the importance of the measure. And he said he believed other school districts that had not yet announced mask policies would now move forward with them.

"They were looking for direction from the state, and medical professionals," he said.

Roosevelt Superintendent Deborah Wortham said she had seen a copy of the mandate Friday evening, which she obtained from the New York State Council of School Superintendents. She said she sent it on to her school board members.

Roosevelt also had announced it was going with masks in schools. Wortham said she was at a recent community meeting with about 75 people where the issue of school masks was discussed. "In favor," she said of the sentiment there.

Wortham said she has spoken to about a half-dozen other superintendents and all agreed about masks being necessary in schools.

However, Kevin Smith, a co-founder of the Long Island Loud Majority, said he disagreed with the state mask measure. "I think it should be left up to the individual school boards and the community," he said.

Smith noted that some Long Island districts adopted a "mask optional" approach and he didn’t know what those districts would do, in the face of a state mandate. He does not believe that masks protect children, he said.

Meanwhile, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island announced a coronavirus-vaccine mandate for clergy and other personnel beginning Sept. 15, with an exception only for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

And those who are unvaccinated must wear masks indoors and be tested for the virus every 10 days, the Right Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, bishop of Long Island, said in a note dated Thursday.

He called vaccination "the only sure way to prevent the spread of the virus, and to ensure the pandemic’s end."

"We have an obligation as the church to do everything in our power to ensure the safety and well-being of the people we are called to serve. Getting vaccinated is a way to express our love of God and our love of neighbor in the midst of this crisis," the note said. "This is tangibly an outward and visible sign of our love and care for God’s people. Getting vaccinated is our ‘being our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper.’ "

There are about 41,000 parishioners, and 129 churches, in the diocese, which also covers Queens and Brooklyn, a spokesman said.

Asked about the Episcopal mandate, and whether the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which covers the Island and is the largest group of Christians, would impose a mandate, Sean Dolan, a diocesan spokesman, did not comment.

Around the country, some religious institutions have required proof of vaccine to varying degrees, or not at all.

In Chicago earlier this month, for example, the city’s Roman Catholic diocese announced a vaccine mandate for clergy and other personnel.

About 78.9% of adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose, and 70.9% are fully vaccinated, across New York State, according to the state's vaccine tracker Friday.

A news release from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said there were 1,115 new COVID-19 cases on Long Island on Thursday, down from 1,224 the day before. There were 18 deaths in New York, including two in Suffolk, according to the release. The seven-day average for positivity in testing was 4.17% on the Island on Wednesday, 4.15% on Tuesday and 3.92% on Monday, the release said.

Also Friday, the New York State Bar Association issued a recommendation that every employer impose a vaccine mandate for all workers who do face-to-face meetings or work in an office, according to a news release. The association wants law firms to lead by example.

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