Updated: February 22, 2021 06:05 PM
Created: February 22, 2021 04:17 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday announced that the state will ask school districts to report how many of its teachers have been vaccinated, how many teachers are doing in-class teaching and the percentage of the week they are doing in-person teaching.
Cuomo said districts would be notified Monday and asked if they can start reporting those figures on Wednesday.
Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza briefed Monroe County legislators and he said the county is close but not quite up to the numbers necessary to completely reopen the schools.
He also says it's important to understand that it is the call of the state and local school superintendents, not him or his department, whether or not schools can reopen or whether certain measures can be used to reopen schools safely.
Legislators say they're wrestling with confusion among parents over whether the county is keeping schools closed and whether school reopening plans are approved.
Mendoza said his office had high hopes that the COVID-19 infection numbers were moving in the right direction in the fall but that they "went south" toward the end of the year.
He says the percentages of people found to have the virus in Monroe County is promising but that the total number of people catching it is still too high.
"Positivity rate and we're already in the lowest category for that. So, the new cases per 100,000 is the metric that we have to get lower. And by my math, it'll be 53 a day on average or 370 per week," Mendoza said. "And we are averaging in the low 100s right now. We'd have to get 253 per day, on average, for seven days."
This follows the governor's announcement last week that schools must resume in-person learning.
Mendoza said it still looks like masks and social distancing are the most effective way to stop COVID-19 from spreading, as opposed to plexiglas barriers on which he says there is no evidence one way or the other.
He says he is providing input and suggestions to school districts and that superintendents have been consulting him but that pulling the trigger on reopening is up to state policymakers and the local school systems themselves.
In fact, he says he hasn't even looked at "any" school district's plans for reopening.
The governor Monday said that remote learning is causing damage to students, though said teachers make a valid point in expressing concern for their health, which is why he wants teachers vaccinated.
While schools in more rural areas, like Le Roy, are working on bringing students back to school in-person five days a week, large public school districts in Monroe County have said it would be impossible to bring students back to school for in-person learning five days a week under current guidelines because of the requirement for six-feet social distancing and the space that requires.
Both the Greece Central School District and Victor Central School District sent letters to New York State asking to reduce the social distancing requirement so they can bring students back.
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