Mask confusion

Students still required to wear masks indoors

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On Friday, NYS Department of Health commissioner Howard Zucker released a letter to Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outlining the state’s plan on mask wearing in schools.

In his letter, Zucker stated: “Indoors, mask use will be strongly encouraged but not required for students, campers, and staff/teachers/counselors who are not fully vaccinated.”

Zucker finished the letter by asking Walensky to let him know if this approach was appropriate given the science.

“If there is any data or science that you are aware of that contradicts moving forward with this approach, please let me know as soon as possible,” Zucker stated in his letter. “We plan to make this guidance effective on Monday, June 7.”

As East Islip and districts across Long Island prepared to relax their mask rules on Monday, they were hit with a notice on Sunday that masks would still be required because Zucker was still waiting on a response from the CDC. It was not required for the CDC to approve the mandate. This caused confusion and anger, as East Islip needed to reverse original messaging regarding masks and alert community members about their continued usage.

“This weekend was maybe the most trying weekend I’ve had in my professional career,” superintendent John Dolan said of the change in direction from the state.

Students honored

Superintendent John Dolan honored three students during the board meeting, including this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian. This year's valedictorian is Shannon Wodicka, who will be attending Binghamton University majoring in chemistry on a pre-med track. The salutatorian is Taylor Casali, who will be attending Ohio State University and major in biology.

Also honored was 12-year-old Sahil Patel, who recently completed his Eagle Scout project. Patel’s project included building two bench gliders and filling flower pots in front of Momentum at South Bay for Rehabilitation and Nursing.

“I think Sahil is indicative of our young people,” Dolan said. “They see things and they want to help. I will caution everybody. You get old, you get sour, you get bitter and you get cranky, and if you allow that crankiness to seep out, the kids will see it and they become cranky also.”

Kalinowski speaks on tabulation error

Former board of education candidate Charles Kalinowski read a statement pertaining to the tabulation error that caused him to be incorrectly named as the winner of the race for incumbent board president Jessica Carney’s vacant seat.

“Based upon the information that was served to me by district lawyers, it appears there were two tabulation errors,” Kalinowski said.  “Although errors that should not have occurred, they are errors nonetheless. I personally could not identify any intentional wrongdoing.”

“It is my belief that our community can learn from this unfortunate mistake and turn a negative into a positive.”

On May 18,  the district reported that candidate Kalinowski won the election for the seat being vacated by Carney. The district had reported that Kalinowski received 745 votes, while candidates Michael Dorgan and Laurie Gapinski-Gould received 675 and 429 votes, respectively.

Nine days later, on May 27, the board publicly announced that the total number of votes for Dorgan and Walsh had been miscalculated. Dorgan had received an additional 240 votes that were not correctly tabulated during the initial vote count. Dorgan’s total 915 total votes surpassed Kalinowski’s 745. Walsh received 1,871 votes instead of the reported 1,405, but ran unopposed.

“Our attorneys have given us a progress report on the board trustee election for my seat and the seat that trustee Walsh ran for,” Carney said. “It is at the commissioner’s and they are working on the review process. All the parties involved have been notified. The board has been kept updated on the progress.”

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