Back to School on Long Island and Masks & COVID-19 Vaccines

Most Nassau and Suffolk County students K-12 are scheduled to return to school this week for the 2021-2022 school year. Wednesday, September 1, 2021, is the start date for most students, however, please inquire with your local school district, as some students, even within the same school district, have different first-day dates. 

While new NYS Governor, Kathy Hochul, has directed that the Department of Health institute a universal mask requirement and mandatory vaccines for all students. As of today, August 31, 2021, there is no universal mask requirement and vaccines are not mandated for students statewide. While the entire State does not have a universal rule, certain regions, such as Nassau County and Suffolk County have set forth their own mandatory minimum obligations, in accordance with the guidance from the New York State Department of Health. The NYS Department of Health has issued “guidance” to all NYS school districts for dealing with COVID-19 prevention. While the instructions are labeled as “guidance,” indicating that the standards set forth are not mandatory, the guidance uses terms such as “must” and “shall.”  The guidance articulates that each local health department must enforce their minimum requirements. However, it is the responsibility of each school district to develop and enforce its own reopening plans, which should identify the details of masks and vaccines for that school. 


The New York State Department of Health guidance states that each school district “must” maintain policies and procedures for students, staff, and other individuals to ensure appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) [ie, masks], is used indoors to protect against the transmission of COVID-19. Masks are required to be worn by all individuals in the classrooms, hallways, school offices, restrooms, gyms and auditoriums, school buses, etc. All visitors must wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required outside, such as on playgrounds, as per the latest New York State orders. 

Suffolk County Schools and Masks: 

The Suffolk County Department of Health requires masks for all students, teachers, and staff. Breaks from mask wearing are permitted for meals and other coordinated activities, provided physical distancing is in place. Most school districts will be allowing students to lower their masks below their noses and mouths while seated at their desks but are directed to keep their masks near their faces for quick access. Be sure to check your child’s individual school website for the district’s mask policies. The mask policy may be found in the dress code section of the student handbook. 

Nassau County Schools and Masks: 

In Nassau County Schools, the Department of Dealth highly recommends, but does not mandate masks for students or staff. Each school district is directed to implement its own mask requirements. Individual students will be given the option to opt-out of the mask requirement by filling out the opt-out form. Most Nassau County School Districts have instituted mandatory mask policies. Visit your child’s school website for detailed information. 


Schools and districts may but are not required to choose to work with local partners and Departments of Health to offer COVID-19 vaccination for eligible students.

The New York State, Suffolk County, and Nassau County Departments of Health have not, at this time, added the COVID-19 vaccine to the mandatory immunization requirements. Mandatory immunizations include Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B, Varicella (chicken pox), Meningococcal, Haemophiles influenza type b conjugate, and Pneumococcal conjugate. 

Suffolk County Schools and Vaccines:

There is no vaccination mandate for Suffolk County School Districts. However, the County of Suffolk guides the schools to set their own vaccine requirements for teachers and staff. As a result, many school districts have required teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Nassau County Schools and Vaccines:

There is no publicly published vaccine mandate for students or staff, however, many Nassau County Schools have required vaccination for their district. 

Visit your school’s website for masks and vaccination requirements: 

Nassau County School District Wesbites:

Suffolk County School District Websites:

The Law Offices of Jennifer G. Tocci, P.C., wishes all students, teachers, and faculty good luck in the upcoming 2021-2022 school year!