No reopening guidance: School leaders must develop their own reopening plans

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In about four weeks, schools will open their doors for the new school year, but the New York State Department of Health says, for now, it doesn’t plan to issue any COVID-19 reopening guidance.

School leaders statewide are being told to follow guidance from the CDC and their local health departments. Districts now have to develop reopening plans for in-person classes to ensure the safety of students and staff.

News10NBC talked to Adam Urbanski, the president of the Rochester Teacher Association, and Dr. Christopher Brown, superintendent of Marcus Whitman Central School District, for their reactions to the news.

Urbanski says the Delta variant has interfered with what would’ve been the district’s plan for the new school year.

"We are going to strongly encourage our district, whatever their plan is, to have a plan "B" because the Delta virus is unpredictable," Urbanski said.

Thursday afternoon, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker released a statement, saying in part, "With the end of the state disaster emergency on June 25, 2021, school districts are reestablished as the controlling entity for schools."

Zucker also recommended districts follow guidance from the CDC and local health departments.

Urbanski says vaccinations remain a top priority.

"We will have to make certain that the district makes arrangements so that those who aren’t vaccinated would have an opportunity to be tested to make sure that schools don’t become centers for spreading the disease," Urbanski said.

Brown says an announcement like this should’ve been made in early July.

"You also have to give teachers, and or other professionals the opportunity to get in the school to adjust to whatever those new regulations might be, and to prepare for students, and you have to give parents an opportunity to work with their students, and so on," Brown said.

Brown says the plan, for now, is to follow the CDC’s transmission levels.

"If a community is in that low to moderate zone, you know, what’s the best course of action versus if they’re in that high moderate to high transmission zone?" Brown said.

The CDC guidance is everyone in a school should mask regardless of vaccination status.

For the latest information on reopening, visit your student’s school district website.