School officials to draft plans for COVID-19 guidance before students return in the fall
New York state will not be issuing COVID-19 guidance for the upcoming school year.
This means that school districts will have total control over their individual plans for the fall.
School officials have learned that they will have to draft up plans before students come back to school in just a few weeks.
They tell News 12 they had been waiting to draft up plans because they were told guidance was going to be released by the state, but now, they have to rush plans in a matter of a few weeks.
The Clarkstown and White Plains school districts plan to follow guidance from the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics.
The district is going back five days a week, with no hybrid option and masks must be worn by everyone inside.
“We’re going to continue to have physical distancing in place where, where possible and make sure that we are maintaining all of our health safety expectations in terms of screening. We’re working right now with the County of Westchester, as well as our health services folks to again have opportunities for screening testing taking place throughout the district,” says White Plains Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Ricca.
Dr. Ricca and Clarkstown officials say they will have the ability to go fully remote should quarantining be necessary.
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The state commissioner of education sent a letter to Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker saying, "The circumstances enveloping the Executive Chamber this week should not prevent the Department of Health from the execution of its responsibilities to the public, as has been promised by the Governor's office for months."
Dr. Zucker released a statement saying, "With the end of the state disaster emergency on June 25, 2021, school districts are reestablished as the controlling entity for schools. Schools and school districts should develop plans to open in-person in the fall as safely as possible, and I recommend following guidance from the CDC and local health departments."
Doctors who spoke with News 12 say the best thing school officials can do at this point is listen to the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, and follow through with their advice.
This includes mask wearing among all staff and students, many of whom have not been vaccinated or are too young to get a shot.
Robert Lowry, with the New York State Council for School Superintendents, says the state repeatedly said COVID-19 guidance was coming.
"To some extent, local school and health...county health officials were put on hold in their own decision making," he says.
Dr. Christina Johns, with PM Pediatrics says all schools should follow the same playbook.
"Lean back into the science of what we learned last year and that is that with those layered mitigation procedures, schools actually did very very well," says Johns.