Updated: February 22, 2021 06:09 PM
Created: February 22, 2021 11:48 AM
GREECE/VICTOR, N.Y. (WHEC) — Superintendents across our area have told us they can't logistically bring students back full time 6 feet apart because of the size of the classroom.
School districts like Victor Central and Greece Central are asking for more defined data-based metrics and a new approach.
“We want to get our kids back in school I mean evidence shows kids aren't being in school 5 days a week and with the six foot social distancing Greece schools can't do it,” Greece Board President Sean McCabe said.
Both Greece and Victor school districts board presidents and superintendents sent letters directly to Governor Cuomo to change the 6-foot-rule.
Reference to Greece's letter first appeared in a Tweet from radio host Bob Lonsberry on Monday. A district spokesperson confirmed the letter's existence to News10NBC.
In it, the spokesperson said Superintendent Kathleen Graupman and School Board President Sean McCabe are asking for the state to "define clear, measurable criteria for full reopening of schools, and in it, asked for distancing to be reduced.
According to the GSD spokesperson, the letter to the governor also said in part: "Given the physical restrictions of our school facilities, the six-foot distancing requirement must be reduced."
News10NBC’s Raven Brown asked McCabe if that meant no social distancing at all.
“No. I mean you would wear a mask basically when you couldn't wear a mask then there will be some social distancing aspects but as long as you're wearing a mask you can be within the 6 feet,” McCabe said.
Their letter states given the physical restrictions of their school facilities the six foot distancing requirement must be reduced.
Victor central school district asking for the same, but in their letter they asked if students can play sports, why can't students sit three feet apart?
“Monroe County Health department, Mendoza… He's saying the state sets the requirements, we can't make the decisions at a local level,” Penfield parent Lauren Luft said. “But a simple google search will allow you to find articles that say the state says this is being decided at a local level and other school districts all over New York State are making these decisions on a local level.”
Penfield mom Lauren Luft is part of a group of 500+ parents pushing for in-person learning and she is on board with reducing social distancing.
“You can even go to a bar and get a drink you can go to a restaurant and you don't have to stay six feet as long as you have your mask on,” Luft said. “As long as the kids are wearing a mask, they will be fine.”
Both districts asking for the state to define clear, data-based measures such as seven day regional rolling average, regional hospitalization rates, in-school transmission rates and school district positivty rate.
“There are other creative solutions that we can be taken to get our kids back and school and get them the proper education they deserve rather than saying oh no we can't do it we have to stay six feet apart,” Luft said.
The Greece Central School District is also asking for equitable and timely access to the vaccine for staff as well as access to rapid testing in schools to ensure positivity rates remain low.
McCabe said so far they have not gotten a response from the state.
In a copy of the letter obtained by News10NBC, Superintendent Tim Terranova and Board President Kristin Elliott asked for "parameters" to be established based on "data-based" measures including:
Governor Cuomo said Friday that schools "must reopen" but the six-feet requirement stays.
If the governor is talking about five days a week, which he did not say, every school superintendent News10NBC has talked to says they would transition to in-person, full time but logistically can't until the state says students don't have to stay fix feet apart.
This includes Graupman, who News10NBC spoke to during a briefing last Tuesday.
You can view a copy of Victor's letter below.
So far, New York State has not commented on the request. News10NBC is working to find out if other local districts have made the same request.
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