photo of NYS capitol building in Albany

Photo of the NYS Capitol Building in Albany.

The William Floyd School District has sent a letter to Governor Hochul urging her to respect and uphold local and parental control pertaining to masks and the decision to vaccinate children against COVID-19. The letter, written by Superintendent of Schools Kevin M. Coster and all seven members of the Board of Education, details how schools have operated safely since the governor's removal of the mask mandate in the winter of 2022, thus warranting a continued mask-optional policy for schools. The letter also urges her to refrain from making vaccination for COVID-19 compulsory for school attendance. 

Please click here to read the full letter. It is also available below.

January 10, 2023

The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor, State of New York
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, NY, 12224

Dear Governor Hochul:

We hope this letter finds you well. First, we would like to take a moment to congratulate you on your successful election. We wish you all the best in your first full term and trust that you will strive to do what is best for all of your constituents across New York State – from the North Country bordering Canada to the shores of eastern Long Island and everything in between.

We are writing to you on behalf of the William Floyd School District, located on the south shore of Long Island with approximately 9,000 students in 10 schools, proudly serving the residents of Shirley, Mastic, Mastic Beach and Moriches. There are two points of great concern that we hope you will allow districts and parents to have local control and governance over – masking and school-aged COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Masking
Schools, as government and health department officials have stated throughout the pandemic, have had extremely low in-school transmission rates. Since your removal of the in-school mask mandate during the winter of 2022, we have operated safely and with great success on this front. Additionally, we have heard from a number of parents regarding the negative effects mandated masking had on their children’s emotional well-being. We request that you allow school districts to have local control and decision-making on this matter, as we believe students should have the right to wear or not wear a mask, if they or their families so choose; and, as duly elected officials, locally elected Boards of Education have the wherewithal and the knowledge to do what is best for their respective communities.

Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations for School Attendance
With rumors swirling, legislation pending and the addition of the COVID-19 vaccine to the recommended childhood schedule by the Centers for Disease Control this past October, many parents are concerned that New York State will add the COVID-19 vaccine to the required schedule making it compulsory for school attendance. Your remarks in the October 25, 2022, gubernatorial debate did nothing to assuage that notion. Based on those remarks, it seems that it is possible the COVID-19 vaccine will be required beginning in the 2023-24 school year. The question from the debate and your answer are written verbatim below:

Moderator: “Would you mandate a COVID vaccine for children or no?”

Gov. Hochul: “Not at this time. I’m going to talk about parental control over this. But I would also say, it’s something that comes down to the legislature, anyhow. The legislature makes the determination in consultation with health experts for next year’s school year. You are talking about this year. We’re not talking about mandating a vaccine for children in school at this time. But I am encouraging; highly, highly encouraging.”

(Click the following link for the video clip: User Clip: Would Gov. Hochul mandate COVID vaccine? | C-SPAN.org)

As a district, we have heard from many parents who have expressed their vehement opposition to having their children vaccinated against COVID-19, for various reasons, including: mRNA being a new technology; lack of protection against infection; the speed in which the vaccines were developed; the lack of long-term studies and results; as well as anecdotal evidence of severe adverse reactions that cause many to believe that the risks outweigh any potential benefit.

Many parents, in no uncertain terms, have assured us they will either move out of state or homeschool their children – in numbers far greater than when the religious vaccination exemptions were removed at the end of the legislative session in June 2019. Multiply that by nearly 700 school districts statewide and the effects of a mass exodus from public education in New York State would be devastating.

With that said, we request that local district control for duly-elected Boards of Education be honored regarding masking, as well as parental decision-making (for children under 18) for vaccination against COVID-19.

Thank you and we hope that you take these points into consideration and remember them should any bills pertaining to either subject come across your desk in the future.

Sincerely,

Kevin M. Coster                                                April Coppola                                                     Robert Taiani
Superintendent of Schools                           President, Board of Education                     Vice President, Board of Education

Angelo Cassarino                                              Jennifer Heitman                                             Lorraine Mentz
Trustee, Board of Education                        Trustee, Board of Education                        Trustee, Board of Education

Kevin Meyer                                                      Luis J. Soto                                                         
Trustee, Board of Education                       Trustee, Board of Education                       

CC:
Honorable Carl Heastie, Speaker, NYS Assembly
Honorable Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Majority Leader, NYS Senate
Honorable Phil Ramos, Deputy Speaker, NYS Assembly
Honorable Michael Gianaris, Deputy Majority Leader, NYS Senate
Honorable William A. Barclay, Minority Leader, NYS Assembly
Honorable Robert G. Ortt, Minority Leader, NYS Senate
Honorable Stephen Hawley, Deputy Minority Leader, NYS Assembly
Honorable Andrew Lanza, Deputy Minority Leader, NYS Senate
Honorable Amy Paulin, Chair, Standing Committee on Health, NYS Assembly
Honorable Michael Benedetto, Chair, Standing Committee on Education, NYS Assembly
Honorable Dean Murray, Third District, NYS Senate
Honorable Fred W. Thiele Jr., First District, NYS Assembly
Honorable Jodi Giglio, Second District, NYS Assembly
Honorable Joseph DeStefano, Third District, NYS Assembly                          

  • Athletics
  • CTE
  • Elementary
  • Fine Arts
  • Floyd Academy
  • Hobart Elementary
  • Main
  • Moriches Elementary
  • Paca Middle School
  • STEM
  • Secondary
  • Tangier Elementary
  • WF Elementary
  • WF High School
  • WF Learning Center
  • WF Middle School
  • Woodhull Elem