By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
GREENVILLE — Voters are heading to the polls today, Aug. 23, for the special election for Congressional District 19 and for the Democratic primary in the same district.
The special election is being held to fill a vacancy left when former U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, stepped down after he was appointed lieutenant governor by Gov. Kathy Hochul in May.
Delgado’s replacement is being elected to complete his term in office, which will expire in December.
Facing off in the special election are Republican Marcus Molinaro and Democrat Pat Ryan. Ryan is also running on the Working Families Party line and Molinaro is on the Conservative Party line.
This year the state redrew congressional district lines. No matter who wins the special election for the 19th District, a different Democrat will be on the ballot in the general election in November vying for a full two-year term.
The primary to select the Democratic candidate in the November election is also being held Aug. 23. On the ballot are Democrats Jamie Cheney and Josh Riley.
There is no Republican primary. Molinaro will be the GOP candidate in November.
Voters in Greenville can cast their ballot until 9 p.m. Tuesday at St. John the Baptist Church Hall, 4982 Route 81, Greenville.
Cairo voters can vote at Cairo Town Hall, 512 Main St. or the Cairo Public Library, 15 Railroad Ave., Cairo, depending on the district where they live.
Voters in Durham cast ballots at the East Durham Firehouse, 2401 Route 145, East Durham.
New Baltimore voters can vote at the New Baltimore firehouse, 77 Gill Road; the New Baltimore Town Hall, 3809 Route 51, Hannacroix; or the Medway firehouse, 1352 Route 51, Hannacroix, depending on the district where they live.
By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
GREENVILLE — Are face masks still required in Greenville schools?
A week of conflicting information has left some families confused about whether the requirement is still in place.
Greenville District Superintendent Tammy Sutherland said Friday the mandate still applies until the courts hand down a final decision.
“In review with our school counsel, until a formal decision is issued by the judge, the rule remains in effect and the mask mandate remains in place for schools in New York state,” Sutherland said.
On Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul extended the face mask mandate as the COVID pandemic continues. Originally set to expire Feb. 1, Hochul extended the mandate to Feb. 10 as the court’s review of the case takes place.
Masks have been required in all schools in New York state since schools returned to in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks are considered one component of a tiered response to the pandemic in local schools, along with social distancing, virus testing and quarantining for those testing positive, among others.
On Jan. 24, State Supreme Court Judge Thomas Rademaker struck down the state’s Department of Health emergency regulation that required face masks in all public indoor spaces, including schools, finding the department did not have the authority to enact the rule.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James appealed the ruling and the next day, Jan. 25, the Appellate Court ordered a stay on the lower court’s ruling, reinstating the department’s mask regulation pending further review of the case.
James lauded the stay of the court decision to strike down the mandate.
“Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that wearing a mask saves lives,” James said. “This mandate and today’s decision are critical in helping to stop the spread of this virus and protect individuals young and old. We will continue to do everything in our power to prioritize the health and well-being of all New Yorkers.”
A final decision has not yet been made — the Appellate Court must still rule on the merits of the case, and at press time had not yet done so.
State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa issued a statement Friday reinforcing the requirement at all schools in the state.
“SED [State Education Department] anticipates that the court will issue a further ruling in the coming weeks,” Rosa said. “Until such time, the mask rule remains in effect. School districts must also abide by any commitment to mask wearing contained in their publicly posted reopening plans for the 2021-2022 school year.”
Hochul on Friday announced the mandate requiring face masks in all indoor spaces would be extended to Feb. 10. Positive cases, fueled by the spread of the Omicron variant, are now on a steady downward trend statewide, Hochul said Friday.
“We still don’t know much beyond where we are right now, but the trend is much more positive,” Hochul said.
She announced the extension of the mask mandate in schools and other indoor spaces at a downstate press conference about an impending winter storm. Originally set to expire Feb. 1, Hochul extended the mandate through Feb. 10 and said she would reconsider the mandate every couple of weeks depending on how the pandemic progresses.
Masks would continue to be required in all schools in the state, Hochul said Friday.
“The schools’ masking policy remains in effect despite the fact that there was a little ‘blip,’” Hochul said, referring to the Monday court decision striking down the mandate, “but we are back on track legally and I want to thank our attorney general, Letitia James, and her incredible team for understanding the urgency of us appealing a decision and we will continue to defend that in court.”
Mask requirements help to keep the virus at bay in schools and ensures in-person instruction can continue, Hochul said.
“This is how we can keep our schools open and when kids are safe there, moms and dads can get back to work — we can start on that path to being normal again,” the governor said. “There will come a time when we can talk about lifting this as well. We are just not there yet.”