Local educators react to state guidelines to reopen schools

WWNY Local educators react to state guidelines to reopen schools

PHILADELPHIA, N.Y. (WWNY) - Now that Governor Cuomo says schools can reopen in the fall, north country school leaders are weighing in on the decision as they’re in a mad dash to get their plans done.

"Schools will reopen if that region is in Phase 4 and the daily infection rate remains 5 percent or lower over a 14 day average," Cuomo announced Monday.

That is the state's formula to determine if schools reopen and the the north country looks like it will pass the test.

"Frankly we are relieved about the general guidance that was provided by the governor because it did highlight the fact that there would be a regional approach for reopening schools," said Mary Anne Dobmeier, superintendent, Indian River Central School District.

The only thing that can get in the way of a school's being open is if the infection rate in the region climbs to 9 percent over about a week. Then the school will be closed.

Dobmeier says each district is working on a plan with 3 different possibilities: going to school in-person, learning from home, or a mix of the two. Those plans need to be complete by the end of the month.

"We have to figure out how many students we have to get on a bus, provide as much social distancing as possible as we can, but students will be required to wear masks on buses as well as in school when social distance can't be maintained," said Dobmeier.

Late Monday afternoon, the state Department of Health released detailed instructions for what the school districts have to do in order to safely reopen. They deal with everything from masks, to temperature screening, to cleaning and disinfecting schools.

"Administrators and teachers and support staff in our schools in the north country really want to do what's best for kids and we are going to make every decision with them as the foundation," said Sackets Harbor Central School Superintendent Jenn Gaffney.

But as Governor Cuomo said Monday, it's up to each community to make this work.

"I guess I take solace in knowing that as long as the north country works hard to keep COVID under control, we will be opening our doors and that to me is very exciting to me right now," said Gaffney.

State officials say they will decide which schools will reopen the first week of August.

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