Updated: November 18, 2020 06:37 PM
Created: November 18, 2020 06:25 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — While Monroe County is currently seeing well above a 4% seven-day rolling average of positive COVID cases, schools in the Yellow Zone are well below 1% for positive cases.
COVID-19 testing in schools began this week in districts within the Yellow Zone. So far, districts are saying it's been going according to plan.
"I think it's just evidence that schools are safe," said Fairport Superintendent Brett Provenzano. "The system and the process works."
Across the board, school districts believe that their low positive case numbers can be attributed to the safety protocols they've been following like masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and frequent sanitization.
"Schools are just really safe. There's no transmission from student to student or adult to student because we're all doing what we need to be doing," Webster CSD Superintendent Carmen Gumina told News10NBC.
Districts are trying to keep testing as minimally invasive as possible, both physically and within the school day. The nasal swab process takes about 10 seconds, and administrators are working to not disrupt class periods.
"The testing has gone really smoothly, we're doing our best to pull students out of study halls," Pittsford Superintendent Mike Pero said.
Though testing has been going well inside Pittsford schools, outside of school the community has had mixed reactions.
"Some people have felt the testing is quite the governmental overreach and we shouldn't be doing it, which is why we allowed for consent or non-consent to test. And others are very thankful and wanting to have their children tested before the holidays especially," Pero said.
Despite the low positive test result numbers in school districts, officials say now is not the time to bring kids back fully.
"The guidance hasn't changed. So, if we get different guidance, and there's different research out there that informs what we need to do or how we need to proceed in a safe and healthy way, then we'll always be reflective and move forward in that way, but until that guidance changes I think we're obligated to stay the course," Provenzano said.
A major factor is limited space. As long as CDC guidance says students must be 6 feet apart, districts will likely continue to utilize hybrid models.
"We are going to continue with our plan. We brought students who wanted to come back at the end of the first marking period, which was the beginning of our second marking period, if you will, on Monday," East Rochester Superintendent Jim Haugh said. "Space restrictions that are in place right now are going to cap in certain classrooms how many kids could come back."
What happens next with school districts will depend on if case numbers drop outside of schools, if New York State guidance changes and modifying behavior outside of the classroom.
"We just cannot look at that number as it's decreasing and say oh we're out of the woods, we don't really have to modify behavior. We absolutely have to modify behavior outside of these school buildings," Gumina said.
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