BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Erie County Department of Health says it’s adopting the New York State Department of Health’s school guidance after receiving feedback from school leaders.
According to the ECDOH, this will be the “controlling guidance” for K-12 schools in the county starting Monday, September 27. The ECDOH issued its school guidance on August 23.
County health officials tell News 4 adopting the NYSDOH school guidance is to bring consistency between school districts in Western New York. Additionally, they say the NYSDOH guidelines have been the “minimum standard for schools to follow” since its introduction on September 2.
“The COVID-19 school guidance that our department issued remains a strong document with practical, common-sense recommendations for schools to maintain safe and healthy operations,” Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said.
State regulations for mask-wearing in school settings and testing of school staff who cannot provide documentation of vaccination status remain unchanged, the ECDOH added.
Health officials tell News 4 they are coordinating screening testing for schools and districts. The county’s COVID-19 “proximate testing program” will begin in early October. The program is when they test students and staff in the same class or extracurricular as a case while contagious.
The ECDOH will also distribute PPE to schools next week and says it purchased antigen tests for schools to test unvaccinated school staff.
“Our department has gone above and beyond the minimum to protect students in school settings,” Dr. Burstein said “That is seen in the fact that we have a dedicated COVID-19 school team in our office of epidemiology – the only one that we know of in all of New York State. Additionally, we extended an offer for a test-through-quarantine option to a small set of influential district leaders, as a way to moderate the impact of quarantine. Unfortunately, that offer was dismissed by the district leaders.”
Officials will also send sanitarians into schools to confirm compliance with NYSDOH requirements and review reports they receive regarding “any failure to follow state guidance and other appropriate safety standards.”