Fort Drum commander confident in school re-opening

Updated: Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:29 PM EDT
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWNY) - The man in charge of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum says he’s confident in the plans north country schools have to re-open, schools which have many students from Fort Drum.

Brigadier General Brett Funck, the Acting Senior Commander of the 10th, has been in the meetings where the schools - Watertown, Carthage and Indian River - planned re-opening.

“We are fully in support of what the school districts are doing,” he told 7 News Tuesday.

The relationship between Fort Drum and local schools is unique; unlike other military installations - the army post doesn’t host a school. It relies on surrounding communities, so talks about how to re-open schools have included Fort Drum.

One of the things Drum officials have talked about - what happens when a soldier comes back from deployment or a high risk area. They’ll quarantine for 14 days, in barracks on post, away from children going to school.

“It’s not 14 days in the house. It’s 14 days away from the house. And then they’re allowed to go back to their families,” Funck said.

Indian River Central School District Superintendent Mary Anne Dobmeier said knowing Fort Drum is taking steps to contain COVID exposure helps ease fears about a potential spread of COVID-19 coming from post.

“It’s helped to allay and prevent any kinds of questions of that nature from arising within the larger community,” Dobmeier said.

For Funck, there’s a personal connection to the schools. He has three children.

“Really important for our kids to get back to school. But, it’s really important that we do it safely.”

When it comes to reopening - Fort Drum won’t have its own rules. Students and parents will follow the school district guidelines. So if a parents is supposed to take a student’s temperature before putting them on the bus, they should. And if a parent doesn’t want to send their child back to school, General Funck says it’s their choice.

“There’s probably some parents that want to go to either remote schooling, or to go into the home school method, and that’s their personal choice.”

As schools prepare to open, Dobemeier says it’s important to continue to leave the doors of communication open between Fort Drum and the community.

“We’ve had for years a very good, collaborative relationship with Fort Drum. And it continues to the present day, and will continue for many, many years,” she said.

Funck said the relationship goes both ways.

“It’s a great working relationship. Really proud to have those conversations, and really proud to be a part of it.”

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