Local schools waiting on reopening guidance from NYSED

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Last week the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) said school districts should develop their own reopening plans for the fall after months of waiting.

Now the New York State Education Department said it will be sending out its own guidance.

The letter was sent out to districts on Tuesday. It says the document will be based on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and that this is necessary in light of the continued absence of health-related school opening direction and assistance from the governor’s office and the NYSDOH.

The problem is, many districts are already creating their own guidelines which they were planning to release by the end of the week.

“Our youngest kids are not vaccinated and they are still vulnerable, we are working closely with schools to help them get ready and to overcome the challenges that they face while we await updated guidance from the state education department I am recommending districts follow CDC guidance as closely as possible," Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said.

This week Penfield released its released re-opening plans which include many of the CDC recommendations, universal masking indoors regardless of vaccination status, three feet distancing in classrooms, six feet when eating and any other time mask is removed and mandatory masks on buses with windows open to increase airflow.

Gates-Chili also announced students have to wear masks determined by transmission rate.

Rush-Henrietta superintendent and president of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents Bo Wright said in a statement:

"Local school districts were not expecting the state education department to issue reopening guidance, and look forward to seeing it as soon as possible. Time is of the essence for our students, families, and employees. School districts continue to move forward in creating plans that make sense for their unique communities.”

“The operations of schools is at the discretion of the districts and their boards and our job is to make recommendations. My understanding is that State Ed is going to limit their focus as they would to the elements of education and instructional delivery and they will be leaving the public health aspects to us,” Mendoza said.

The State Department of Education said it expects to have its guidance out later this week.

The Monroe County Department of Health will also release recommendations by Aug. 20.