Local students will return to school in person with masks

Jack Longyear (photo by Dion Ogust)

New Paltz, Saugerties, Onteora and Kingston school officials are preparing for a school year that will be closer to the old normal than either of the past two. All children will be expected to attend in person, five days a week; there will be no remote or hybrid options provided.

If a surge of cases is experienced, all instruction will be virtual, but state officials are not requiring any plans for kids who are kept home at other times. 

New Paltz

Everyone in the buildings will have to keep their faces covered and keep three feet apart from one another, and the deep cleaning that’s been done midweek is going to be shifted to the evening hours instead. While there has never been any official guidance requiring Plexiglas partitions, some of the hundreds purchased for classroom use will be placed in the cafeterias — but students will not be forced to sit in what some parents and teachers have described as “fishbowls” that make seeing and hearing difficult.


With hybrid and remote options being discontinued, delivery of meals for children who are learning from home will also be off the table. Superintendent Angela Urbina-Medina said that providing such a service was challenging due to a “crisis in staffing food service” positions. Every type of service provided is complicated by this pandemic; when someone is exposed to this coronavirus, then a substitute must be brought in to do that job and those are in short supply.

Urbina-Medina explained the current plans at the August 4 school board meeting. While these details provide some clarity, the superintendent noted that there is a “lack of guidance” about many of the particulars. It’s also understood that the rules could be changed based on the number of cases reported.


Shortly before the Kingston City School District made its announcement on Friday, August 6, Superintendent Paul Padalino said that both he and the Board of Education were in favor of a mask mandate as schools reopen for the 2021-22 academic year next month. 

“All the science tells us the masks work,” Padalino said. “I know some people don’t believe in this, but the science is pretty clear. Last week here at central office, we went to masks required indoors just because we’re getting close to the beginning of the school year and the last thing we needed is people in central office getting sick.”

Padalino added that the district would do its best to stick to three-to-six feet of social distancing in school buildings. 

“Obviously our cafeterias are going to be a struggle,” Padalino said. “That’s one of the things that we’re working on. At the high school, we have 400 kids in a lunch period and that’s a challenge.”

The superintendent added that tents purchased for outdoor classes last year would likely be used again this fall. He also encouraged parents to keep students home if they’re feeling unwell. And while the district collected the laptops used by students during remote learning in 2020-21, they can quickly be redistributed if necessary. 

“Obviously we’re prepared to switch to remote learning, whether it be for a classroom or a school building or the whole district, at the drop of a hat,” Padalino said.


The Saugerties Central School District also announced they’d be able to pivot to remote learning should the need arise, but in an August 6 statement posted to the official district website, Supervisor Kirk Reinhardt said they hope to keep schools open and safe. 

“Our goal is to hold 100-percent in-person instruction five days a week for our students,” said Reinhardt. “We will continue to monitor the guidance from the DOH (Department of Health) or the State Education Department and adjust these requirements as conditions change. We are committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students and staff.”


“As of this date, we have received no guidance from the NYS Department of Health (DOH), the New York State Education Department (SED) or the Governor’s Office about requirements for the opening of school,” Interim Superintendent Marystephanie Corsones said in a letter sent to parents on August 6. “We continue to plan and hope for a full return to in-person instruction for all students.”

Corsones said schools will be open for in-person teaching and learning only and students are expected to be in school five days per week as permitted by health officials. As of now, the district will only move to remote learning in the event of a declared public health emergency.

“We will not be able to provide the same remote option for students that we did last year.  While we recognize that in some unique instances a remote-only option may be needed for some students, we, as a district, will not be able to provide an Onteora-specific remote option as we did last year,” she wrote to parents. “Therefore, the district has been researching remote-only options and has identified potential partnerships.”

All students and staff will continue to be required to wear a mask while indoors regardless of vaccination status and will be required to answer questions in the district screening app before entering buildings. Anyone experiencing Covid-19 symptoms should not come to school. If symptoms develop during the day, the student or staff member will be sent home.

There are 28 comments

  1. Intel

    Angela I’m the source of “guidance “ and without Cuomo there is no source in Albany for guidance. The reopening without a fully vaccinated mandate will occur in exactly the same manner as everywhere else in the country that tried it. Schools will infect large numbers of students and staff and be forced to close. This isn’t a future an intelligent person would rush to. Either we step up as a County and impose vaccine mandates now or nobody has time to comply by September and nothing will be done preventatively at all. Please implore Dr Smith to step up and ensure Ulster County is leading again on this instead of following six to nine months behind like Hochul apparently is. The folks at Pfizer are following me now and so is Fauci. Listen to Fauci and Gottlieb when they tell you that you cannot safely house the unvaccinated and vaccinated together in shared air period. Ignore the “virus is a hoax” people like Hochul. Use our County authority on Health and Safety to supersede NYS’s lack of intelligence and impose what anyone with a brain knows is coming before the outbreaks instead of after. Save the Districts having to discard all their plans and returning to all remote learning. Once we attain fully vaccinated school buildings we can employ relatively cheap air monitors to detect airborne viruses and ditch all the masks until an infected person enters a room, forces every occupant to mask up and gets sent home to quarantine. You’re going to have to lead. There’s no figure to follow here that isn’t subject to scandal mongering and political destruction.

    1. Jaymes Nohns

      Unless you want a civil war, you should stop pushing for a mandate………stop pushing vaccines, you are not a doctor…

      1. Bill H

        Ah, civil war brought to you by the Internet tough, Jaymes Nohns. That notion is just crammed full with bluster. I believe the vast majority of unvaccinated people do not stand with people like Nohns, who talk “civil war” on anonymous forums over this issue. Perhaps his understanding of the sacrifices people make who go to war is about as deep as his understanding of Covid-19 and the efficacy of masks and vaccines. Wouldn’t an anti-vaxer more likely get a fake vaccine card, or perhaps file a legal challenge, rather than actually take up arms against his/her government, or a local restaurant owner?

        Don’t be a pawn. Don’t let Trump & Co manipulate you into throwing your life on the line while they enjoy their well-vaccined lives. They have been stirring you up for years now so that you will incite some Hollywood notion of “civil war” while they watch, amused. Remember what echelon is slaughtered in a civil war and which gets to pick through the spoils.

        I agree with Intel that a vaccine mandate is inevitable and the reason is that information/ education is not going to work quickly enough to stave off another possible total societal shutdown, as well as countless sick and dead.

        1. Jaymes Nohns

          You are ignorant to think people havent had enough….again…survival rate is 99 percent…you are also ignorant to think that there isnt a life outside of Saugerties….also, food for thought, Florida is currently 4th in most vaccinated people, yet has the highest caseload in the country? Seems odd, no? Sounds like the vaccine isnt what ot is supposed to be…The CDC inflated the Covid cases in Florida last week, and got caught….Desantis is the biggest threat to the current clown administration….they are doing everything to make him look bad………Desantis is over the target, and they know that, as do you……How long will Covid last? As long as the Dems need cheating by mail in votes to win….pretty simple…..

          1. Bill H

            Florida population: 21.6 million
            3rd most populous state
            # of people fully vaccinated: 10.8 million
            Percent fully vaccinated: 50.5%

            This is why covid is still running rampant in places like Florida. Add to that the general reckless attitude toward covid, and the corresponding behavior, by so many Floridians, and you have your answer to why the ICUs are packed with seriously ill and dying covid patients. The only people that cannot see that reality are those that choose not to. And, sadly, that is A LOT of people in Florida.

            Don’t be fooled by how your favorite news channel is using statistics. Yes, Florida has 10.8 million fully vaccinated people (and all of them deserve our utmost respect for having to strive to live among a hoard of covidiots), and therefore MORE people vaccinated than most states, but that is due to the large population in Florida. Therefore, it is a grossly misleading statement. Within Florida only 50% are fully vaccinated and most of the rest are acting like nothing is happening.

            Like many, I have family in Florida (conservatives, to boot) and they are bewildered by people like you. Particularly in your steadfast denial of facts and your aggressive, selfish disregard for others, all in the name of your “personal liberty”. “To hell with anyone but me (and my immune system),” is not a part of the formation of this country, and we will be damned sure it won’t be part of its evolution.

          2. Jaymes Nohns

            Bill H. , Any way you spin it, its a choice….welcome to America….this is not Bidens America…..speaking of Basement Biden……he seems to be handling Afghanistan well…..his “Earpiece speech” yesterday was stellar……its so blatantly obvious this man isnt mentally fit enough to flush a toilet, let alone push a vaccine….if only the Dems picked someone better….350 million people and they picked “Tolly-bon Joe……for real? In Florida, anyone not vaxxed at this point, isnt going to be.

          3. Bill H

            Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, it does not matter to me who the president is. For you, every issue comes down to your anger over Trump’s overwhelming loss and Biden sitting where you think Trump should be. This has clouded your judgement.

            But since it matters to you, your man Trump again encouraged people to get vaccinated during one of his make-believe-I’m-still-the-president rallies. Of course, he was met with a handful of boos. Less and less boos every time one of his loyalists loses a family member to Covid, or dies himself.

            More importantly than that wasteful diversion is that you don’t even know what’s going on in your own state. You claim that anyone in Florida that isn’t vaccinated, isn’t going to be (as if everyone there is equally distracted by QAnon). On the contrary, Florida vaccinations are on the rise:





            Heck, at least read your local paper. It’s not all conspiracy and lies.

        2. Jaymes Nohns

          Bill H. I am not anti vaccine, I am anti-this vaccine…..something isnt quite right with this one……

          1. Bill H

            I’d like to know where you got the vaccination against common sense.

            What is “not right” is whatever newsfeed has your attention. I mean wherever you get your dose of “facts,” whatever you are tuned into that has you so fearful, enraged and ready to join a “civil war.” Turn that nonsense off because it is encouraging the very worse parts of your nature.

            Why not take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a traditional vaccine? It’s one dose and proven to be highly effective. Also, you have argued that the FDA has not yet fully approved the vaccines. Well, in approximately three weeks, it will. So consider the traditional J&J in three weeks. Just consider it. We’d all appreciate it.

          2. Jaymes Nohns

            Oh looky there, a booster shot for J&J recipients……waiting in the wings…..sign up, before they run out.

        3. Intel

          Thanks Bill. You can only try to save the “Jaymes” of the world against their will. Those in compulsory schooling and those who have no choice but to work to eat and survive deserve a safe workplace and an environment free from contagious diseases. That right has been universally recognized over the “ bodily autonomy” sillinesss by the SC and just reaffirmed by the most politically critical and likely jurist to stand with the unempathetic. Empathy is the root of our Golden Ruleand those without it aren’t actually pious members of any faith.

      2. BS

        Calling for a war against your fellow man, and citizens! You are a lowlife despicable piece of crap. What unintelligent scum. Yeah, picking up arms against another human being, that’s answer??? What a d!cki

      3. Intel

        You already lost the war to revert back to the Stone Ages and now you’re just a domestic terrorism threat we have to monitor when you get fearful enough to turn violent. You’re not on solid ground mental health wise. No firearms should still be in your possession and your travel will soon be severely limited to avoid the risk you pose. Canada has already decided you’re too risky to allow on any transportation.

  2. BS

    Intel, though your basic message, as others you have posted, stand based on good knowledge and advice, and speckled with mostly truth, you almost always add a weird untrue and misleading slant. I do not understand your goals, in doing so. First, I will address this post and response; Where do you get, that NYS Gov. Kathy Holchul is an anti-vaccer? That; She is an anti-masker? Where do you get, that she lacks the ability too lead?

    Gov. Holchul is a far more experienced and educated leader, than ”figure head”, Favorite Son, Golden Boy Andy ever, could even barely attempt too be. She was the chief executive legal advisor and top aide for twenty years, arguably, for one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Senator of all time, the Honorable Senator Moynihan. She has held office, in several levels of government, from county to Congress, and up to Lt. Gov.. Too top it off, her husband, William (Bill) Holchul, another legal and political middle of the roader, was the US Attorney for Western NY, what he must bring as a confidante and partner advisor, too the table. Governor Kathy Holchul is firmly down the middle of the road, as is NYC Mayoral Candidate Adams, exactly what this state, it’s greatest City, and Country need’s right now, and always need’s, really. Coumo, is staying, as too have a smooth transition, for two weeks, specifically, for handling the delta variant transmission. And, Dr. Zucker, until the new Gov. replaces him, is still running things through the transition, with the rest of government remaining in status quo. So, why cry of gloom and doom, putting not even words, but thoughts, into the mind of someone, before they have ever even spoken publicly on, or in depth of her game plan, at all. Governor Holchul will be a breath of fresh air, and the most, and best Governor New York State has had in many decades. Andrew Coumo, as his dad, were failures, and did more harm than good , both using dividing politics and nasty dirty behind closed door tactics; corruption’s, and especially economically speaking, spending hard earned taxpayer monies, as drunken sailors come to port. The ”Party” loved them, and hid any and all discretions and fopah’s because, they won elections, that is it. Beyond that, they both were terrible, spendthrift, no-good governor’s, with the younger being a sexually predacious creep.

    Why then, your added false commentaries, as the other day with adding the ”Gulen Movement”, having something too do with some secret Kabul, too do away with, golden charmed leader Andy Cuomo. Are you really serious, here? Yes, should we watch this Islamic based Gulen movement; which Turkey, and only the Turkish political rival government, has labeled a terroristic movement, and their message and actions, again yes, we should. However, the disinformation that the Gulen movement has infiltrated our government, and all walks of life, along with a global following, and has anything, at all, too do with a no good rich boy favorite son politician’s, who is, by the way, a nasty narcissistic, creepy lecher, being removed for doing wrong, and trying too cover it up, using his office of power, is just false and conspiracy theory crazy. What a loser Andy Cuomo is/ was!

    Intel, please keep the heat on the anti-vaccer’s and anti-masker’s you should be commended for making an honorable, intelligent and socially life saving stand. But, please tone down the false, at times ”National Inquirer” like , and untrue, misleading rhetoric. Thank You.

  3. Donna

    Florida is 3rd in population in the U.S and 24th in percentage of population vaccinated. Perhaps that helps explain the surge in Covid for the people asking.

  4. Sally Jones

    People need to realize that the science behind the current vaccine is to instruct the body’s immune system to attack the virus when its IN THE BODY. IT DOES NOT STOP INFECTION!!! If it did, immune therapies would have cured cancer by now. This means that depending on an individuals own immune system, the vaccine either will work great, work to achieve a lesser severity of the virus or NOT WORK AT ALL on the unfortunate few.

    In addition this means that people will have to be constantly vaccinated. Perhaps every six months with no end in sight. THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER. The long term effects are not known The closest thing maybe the Johnson and Johnson vaccine which for some reason is not as widely used but should be studied more. It actually gives you some of the virus which causes antibodies which may be protecting people longer. They need to work more on antibodies which will PREVENT INFECTION in the first place. We just keep going round and round. I don’t think vaccine mandates are the answer. Why do we have to wait until more and more vaccinated people get sick and die before we try something else. They are dying more and more the media is not reporting it. NOT YET, but they will have to once more people get vaccinated. They are waiting because by then they can blame it on some new variant.

    1. Bill H

      Sally, every antibody produced by a vaccine works against toxins after they enter the body. And most vaccines require boosters. For example measles/mumps/rubella require multiple boosters over time. Tetanus requires boosters every 10 years for our entire lives. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, human papilloma virus, the flu, they all require boosters.

      The tetanus vaccine does not prevent infection. I got the tetanus booster two years ago. If I were to be wounded today with something contaminated with tetanus, it would enter my body and be met with antibodies that specifically attack it before it kills me. And, yet, as effective as the vaccine is I might still get sick. This is precisely the same with all vaccines, including these new ones for Covid-19.

      The vaccines that protect us against Covid-19 will require boosters, as well. And, no, these vaccines do not provide us with a perfect protective wall against Covid. But the overwhelming evidence is that they are VERY effective right now at preventing serious illness and death, even when the vaccinated do become infected.

      Lastly, you state that those that are vaccinated are “dying more and more the media is not reporting it.” Can you share where you got that information? Here IS what is being reported about who is filling ICUs, and the overwhelming majority is unvaccinated people:


  5. Sally Jones

    Bill – 3 hours ago Newsweek. 7 Vaccinated Florida patients die of COVID, Nurse calls situation “Disturbing”.
    We shall see. The jury is still out on all this. I for one got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. I’m old school. One shot, had no side effects whatsoever. Too bad it got a bad rap in the beginning. But if you look at the overall statistics the success rates for the others are reported in a way to make it seem like they are better. But they break it down by ages. Johnson and Johnson just reports OVERALL success and I think its pretty good along with the lowest side effects.

    1. Bill H

      No vaccine in history has prevented illness 100% of the time. All three companies that have produced a vaccine make that very clear in their data. Yes, uncommon breakthrough cases exist, which is troubling. Nearly all breakthrough cases are with people over 60 who have underlying conditions, which is all the more reason for us to continue with reasonable measures to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

      The jury is NOT out on the effectiveness of the vaccines available to us right now. Breakthrough cases are disturbing, but read through the rest of the Newsweek article and a million others. Despite rare breakthrough cases, the vaccines are highly successful at protecting people and, until a better one is developed, this is all we have. And too many are using the smallest bits of information as overall excuses for not getting vaccinated (I know you are not. Thank you for that).

      Where I think your argument gets kind of specious is where you make some distinctions between Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines and J&J’s traditional one. You say the Pfizer and Moderna “are reported in a way to make it seem like they are better,” by “breaking data down by ages,” whereas J&J “reports overall success.” Can you show an example of this? Are you talking about in their initial test trials or how things are reported in the media over the past year?

      The best data we have is real life data. Between 97 and 98 percent of those filling up our ICUs are not vaccinated. Almost all of us who are vaccinated have very high numbers of antibodies in our systems and we are not going to the ICU.

      Here is a Yale School of Medicine article explaining the effectiveness of each vaccine as is known so far:

      Like you, my wife got the traditional J&J vaccine and was so pleased that it was one dose and done. I’m old school too, and would have chosen J&J if it was available when and where I got jabbed. For those who a leery of the new mRNA vaccines, go for the traditional J&J vaccine. Walk in, get jabbed, and go home knowing you are protected and are doing your part in putting an end to this pandemic.

      1. Jaymes Nohns

        J&J? the same company that has a class action lawsuit for knowingly using asbestos in their baby powder? You actually trust this company? Why? Suddenly they stopped being crooks? Lets face it, asbestos didnt just fall into over 33000 bottles of powder, it was put there to cut costs. Now, lets reflect, do you honestly think that couldnt happen with your precious vaccine? Off topic but an interesting question filled read by one of your favorite liberal newspapers…so many questions…….ahhh, just take the jab again, just to be sure-give me a break

  6. Sally Jones

    Bill – Oh and by the way, this is a respiratory virus that spreads in the air, not tetanus. To compare the two is silly. We need to stop the spread of this virus or we will be wearing masks, social distancing, locking down the rest of our lives. The vaccine that accomplishes that should be the one to get approved. The others are good for emergency use like now, but will NOT solve the problem in the long term. They are temporary band aids. Early data showed that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine did just that. Stopped asymptomatic spread. But we shall see.

    1. Bill H

      Sorry if I was unclear. I was using tetanus as an example of how vaccines do not actually “prevent” infection. Vaccines encourage your body to produce antibodies to fight the infection once it enters your system (whether it be airborne or through a wound in the skin). In that way all vaccines are the same. You seem to be making a false distinction between what you called the “new vaccines” (mRNA vaccines?) and traditional ones. You then say that they need to be working on antibodies that “PREVENT INFECTION.” I was just trying to say that that is not what any vaccine does. Antibodies respond to infection and all data so far shows that all three vaccines (new and old school) are working very, very well. Our problem is not the vaccines, it’s people who are willfully refusing all three for selfish reasons.

      The more bodies in which the virus is allowed to flourish, the longer it is going to take to eradicate the virus. The longer it takes to eradicate the virus, the more opportunities the virus has to spread… and mutate.

      I agree, though, that they should be striving for even more effective vaccines as the battle wages on.

  7. misanthrope

    Could someone on the Editorial Board put an end to this Hatfield-McCoys endless ranting feud ? PLEASE !

  8. Patchman

    I’m not on the Editorial Board but I’ll give it a “Jab” , no pun intended. Agree to disagree and call it a day. Peace out…

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