Experts concerned over returning to class as UK variant spreads in Monroe County

Stephanie Duprey
Updated: April 12, 2021 11:11 PM
Created: April 12, 2021 10:32 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — With an uptick in positive cases of the more transmissible UK variant, healthcare professionals have some concerns about heading back to class.

The state released new guidance on back-to-school just last week. The clock is ticking on the school year, and local leaders are weighing in on the subject as districts prepare to welcome students back.

Infectious disease experts in our area say they have to admit that they're a little concerned about school being back in-person.

Rochester's Regional Health infectious disease Dr. Emil Lesho says the way the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broke down the distancing rules is confusing.

"It was either greater than three feet or greater than six feet, well the question I have is I mean if you have six feet how is that any different from greater than three and so where was the overlap,” Lesho said.

Now that the new more transmissible UK variant is making itself well known in our area, health professionals question going back to school.

“The new guidance was conducted when these contagious variants were not prevalent at the time,” Lesho said. 

County Executive Adam Bello says he and County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza meet with the schools weekly to figure out how they can meet guidelines. Bello says getting more people vaccinated will help bring in the secondary and older kids that can't come back with the current guidance.

"The community prevalence and spread but we do have a tool here in order to reduce spread and get our kids back and that’s vaccinations we have to get vaccinated,” Bello said.

Many schools in our area have April 19 marked on the calendar as the day students return. Local superintendents say they still have more questions on what they can and can't do and hope to get more from local leaders during Tuesday’s weekly update.

"I can't keep my families also waiting forever so I'm hoping to get some sort of communication to them by the end of the week in hopes of keeping that date of the 19th,” Kathy Graupman said, the superintendent for the Greece School District.

The vaccine is our key ingredient in many ways, Lesho says in order to prevent the virus from mutating into different variants, people need to get their COVID-19 shot.

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