ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Department of Health issued its Prekindergarten-12 school reopening guidance last night. This comes as some students and staff are already back for the new school year, and others are starting next week.
“It’s great that the Department of Health issued guidance for school districts. I really wish they would have given this guidance to districts a lot sooner,” said Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Jasmine Gripper. She says districts have already put in place many of the policies mentioned in the guidance like mask wearing indoors. But she says that the guidance doesn’t provide enough details for when there isn’t the ability to comply.
“The Department of Health gives specific requirements around eating lunch because kids have to take off their mask, and how far apart they have to be, which is about six feet, and many school districts do not have the physical ability to comply with that guidance,” Gripper said.
Kyle Belokopitsky with the New York State PTA says the guidance didn’t have many surprises. “I think clarity is very helpful. And, I’ll be honest, most of the state guidance we received yesterday is CDC guidance, so there’s nothing in there that was glaring,” she said.
Belokopitsky says one thing that could create a logistical issue for school districts to implement is the testing requirement for unvaccinated staff.
As far as the guidance as a whole goes, she says she anticipates changes. “We’re going to have I think a continued review by our State Department of Health, and our Governor’s Office and our state education department on really the rules that will keep our schools open,” she said.