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County leaders create new task force supporting K-12 reopening

Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small Photo: News10NBC. Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small

Emily Putnam
Updated: July 30, 2020 05:53 PM
Created: July 30, 2020 10:16 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Although we are quickly approaching the deadline for school districts to submit their reopening plans to the state, there are still a lot of unanswered questions from parents, teachers, and staff.

Thursday, a new initiative was announced by county leaders, including County Executive Adam Bello, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Mendoza and new RCSD Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small. 

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It’s called the Finger Lakes Reopening Schools Safely Task Force.

It includes more than 40 local leaders in the areas of public health, education, government, and the non-profit sector, as well as parent representatives.

Their goal is to ensure the physical and social/emotional health and safety of students, educators, and school communities upon reopening in the fall across the 13-county Finger Lakes region. 

News10NBC has received hundreds of questions about schools reopening and students returning to school, and one of the most frequently asked is “What happens if a student or teacher at my child’s school gets coronavirus?”

Dr. Mendoza said, "The first step is to involve the local health department, be it Monroe County or whatever county it’s in. And then we undertake the same process we’ve undertaken to date… which is to investigate very thoroughly, identify anybody who might be at risk going forward, who may have been exposed to that individual, and then go back in time to figure out how that individual might’ve contracted that infection.”

Mendoza reiterated that it will not be a one-size-fits-all approach for all school districts, other than maintaining close communication with each district’s respective county health department. He also stated that when schools reopening, a surge of new cases would not come as a surprise. 

“This pandemic is not going anywhere anytime soon,” Dr. Mendoza said. “So in my department, we’re not planning for ‘if’ but ‘when’ … and so, whatever school might be impacted, whatever building might be impacted, our approach will be dependent upon the extent to which that school district undertook all of the guidance that they know about now.”

Watch the press conference in its entirety in the video player below:


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