Masks, vaccines and testing: Back-to-school during COVID-19

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Teachers are getting classrooms ready this week in order to welcome back students for the start of the new school year. While all local districts have released safety plans for parents and students to review, there are still a few questions as to how they’ll be enforced especially after handfuls of parents across several districts locally have voiced concerns over the mask mandate at recent school board meetings.

The President of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents and Superintendent of the Rush-Henrietta School District Bo Wright provided an update Monday.

Jennifer Lewke (News10NBC) – Do you anticipate having to have security or more monitors? Will it be up to the teachers, how will you enforce the mask mandate?

Bo Wright – I think kids and parents ultimately want to be in school and so I think the vast majority of students are going to follow the rules.

Jennifer Lewke – But if they don’t?

Bo Wright – Ultimately, if a student comes to school without a mask and you have a family who is refusing to put a mask on a student the first thing is going to be to work with families, if that doesn’t work then schools will have to decide what those next steps will be.

Districts across Monroe County say while the mask mandate is in place now, it may not be all year if things settle down.

Currently, only about half of school-aged children in Monroe County eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19, have been. While many schools have been sharing information about the vaccine and clinic locations, you won’t find too many clinics to actually get the vaccine on school grounds anymore.

Jennifer Lewke – So, you don’t have plans to do that for the fall?

Bo Wright – There hasn’t been talk about it at this point this fall.

According to the CDC, schools in high-risk areas like Monroe County should also be conducting regular COVID-19 testing among students and teachers but that won’t be happening at this point and a benchmark has not been set as to when it might begin.

Jennifer Lewke – Is it fair to say that they’ll be no major changes to either testing or masking without the direct input of Dr. Mendoza and the county health department moving forward?

Bo Wright – Yeah, and I think at this point in time you’re seeing more state involvement too, there will probably have to be conversations at the state level as well.