FIS School & Ferry Mask Update

April 20, 2022

Dear Fishers Island Community:

Happy Tuesday! I am writing to inform you that the Fishers Island Ferry has updated their mask policy.  The new policy is effective today and can be found below:

“Fishers Island Ferry has moved to a mask optional policy and will no longer require masks in our terminals or on our boats. Masks are still encouraged, especially if it makes you feel more comfortable and in crowded situations aboard the ferries when weather doesn’t permit passengers to spread out onto the other decks. -Geb Cook, Ferry District Manager”

We continue to be grateful to the Fishers Island Ferry for their partnership and focus on safety for our entire community.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.

In your service, Christian

Christian Arsenault
Superintendent/Principal
Fishers Island School

March 2, 2022

Dear Fishers Island Community,

I hope this finds you well. As you know, the universal mask mandate for schools is no longer in effect in New York State. This change aligns with the recently released CDC guidance based on the “community burden” of the virus. Last night, NYS released guidance to implement this shift to an optional mask policy, along with a Frequently Asked Questions document. For counties like Suffolk (NY) and New London (CT), deemed a Low Transmission Risk, universal masking is no longer recommended.

Related to masking, a summary of the requirements and recommendations are as follows:

  1. Positive individuals must isolate at home for a minimum of five (5) days or until symptoms are resolving and the individual is fever free for 24 hours. The individual must wear a mask for Days 6-10 upon return to school.
  2. The statewide guidance effectively ends quarantine for individuals exposed or potentially exposed to a positive case and shifts toward a “monitor and test strategy,” and strongly recommends masks for ten days for those exposed and a test being taken on Day 5 after exposure. Currently, there are zero cases of positivity at Fishers Island School.

We expect all members of our school community to respect each individual’s decision to wear a mask or not. This is clearly summarized in the statewide guidance:

It is essential that schools establish “mask positive” environments so that those who wear masks, whether by choice, expectation, or requirement, are not stigmatized, bullied, or made to feel uncomfortable, and likewise for those whom masks have not been required or recommended are not stigmatized, bullied or made to feel uncomfortable for the decision to not wear a mask.

In accordance with public health best practice, the guidance continues to recommend mask-wearing if:

  • You are exposed to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19. Exposure is defined as being in the same room within a school as someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer.
  • You or a family member have an increased risk of severe illness as a result of respiratory illness or are moderately to severely immunocompromised and have discussed the need to mask with your healthcare provider
  • You develop COVID-like symptoms and are concerned you could transmit a respiratory illness
  • You feel more comfortable wearing a mask for personal reasons

While we can celebrate moving closer to “normalcy,” I recognize that some may not be comfortable removing masks and the shifts in guidance. Therefore, please know that I am here if you want to sit down and discuss any aspect of our school’s operational plan to provide clarity and hopefully some reassurance.

I feel confident in the numerous other mitigation strategies we will continue to employ to keep us healthy and safe. Our multiple-layered approach will continue to prioritize; ongoing COVID diagnostic testing, contact tracing/community alerts to positive cases, encouraging everyone to stay home when not feeling well, and our cleaning/sanitizing plan.

We will continuously monitor, assess, and respond to the data and guidance from state and local health officials.

Thank you for your continued support of our school to keep our community safe. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

In your service, Christian

Christian Arsenault
Superintendent/Principal
Fishers Island School

March 1, 2022

Dear Fishers Island Community:

I hope that this finds you well. I am writing to inform you that Governor Hochul, in alignment with the State Department of Education, New York State Department of Health, and Suffolk County Department of Health, has announced an end to the statewide mask mandate for schools. Fishers Island School will become a “mask optional” school beginning tomorrow, March 2, 2022.

The end of the New York statewide mask mandate means that masks will become optional for all students, staff, and visitors to the Fishers Island School. Moving forward, anyone who wants to continue to wear a mask would be able to do so. I can assure you that our school community will not tolerate anything less than the full support of an individual/family’s right to do what they feel is best for them.

Fishers Island School has amended our COVID-19 Reopening Plan to adopt the new guidance from the New York State Department of Education and Suffolk County Department of Health. We will continue to follow all required guidance and maintain the vast majority of mitigation strategies and health strategies that have kept us safe over the past 23 months. This includes our ongoing commitment to providing routine COVID-19 diagnostic and screening testing, which we have relied upon during the most recent virus surge. We also will strongly encourage wearing a mask when feeling sick with increased coughing, sneezing, or nasal congestion.

Unlike Connecticut, the New York State decision to end the mask mandate was made for all schools at the State and County level. Local boards of education do not have the independent authority to maintain a local mask mandate for individual schools.

There is a federal executive order that still requires masks on public transportation. Therefore, masks will still be required on the Fishers Island Ferry until further notice.

Since the pandemic’s beginning, Fishers Island School has supported and aligned with public health leadership to curb the spread of COVID-19. We have collaborated with the Island Health Project and remained steadfast in adopting and implementing protocols based on guidance. We have learned a lot about this ever-evolving virus and have improved overall health, cleaning, and air quality standards to keep our community safe.

Having said this, I understand and empathize with anyone concerned about this shift in strategy. Please know that we will continue to prioritize health and safety in all that we do at Fishers Island School. We will continue to reevaluate our safety protocols consistently and monitor for future guidance from public health officials.

Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

In your service,

Christian Arsenault

Superintendent/Principal
Fishers Island School

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