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School opens soon, but COVID-19 protocols still a question

Aug 12, 2021 2:02 pm

Melanie Lekocevic reports in Columbia-Greene Media that students are only a few weeks away from a new year, and local school administrators still have not announced publicly how they are handling COVID-19 protocols. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's staff and the state health department both failed to give local school districts any guidance or rules even though there is currently an outbreak of the much more contagious delta variant locally and nationally. Lekocevic does not quote any advocates for children's health, or experts who know the science of the pandemic. Instead, she quotes local school administrators who all say the same thing, they are waiting for the State Education Department. “We are waiting for SED guidance before we make any proclamations regarding COVID protocols and in- person learning,” Coxsackie Assistant Superintendent of School Services Leslie Copleston said. “We are convening a safety committee meeting on Monday to plan.” Catskill District Superintendent Ronel Cook wrote online to parents that he is also waiting instructions, but that students who want to learn remotely this year will be required to get a doctor's note. He did not reveal if masks will be worn, or if vaccines will be mandated, But that parents or children worried about health issues will need a doctor's note to avoid possible infection. State education officials did release a report Aug. 12 with some more information. "Schools and school districts should promote social distancing while maintaining existing safety requirements designed to protect students," the report said. "Schools and districts will be required to perform health checks and screenings.... require wearing appropriate face coverings...." with some students "in remote or hybrid settings." Andrea Macko in Porcupine Soup reports that, "Last week, Greene County Public Health Director Kim Kaplan issued a letter to all schools in the county. In that letter, Kaplan stated that the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend all K-12 schools adopt universal masking for teachers, staff, students, and visitors, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status."