A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo confirms that neither his office nor the New York State Department of Health will issue any kind of guidance for the reopening of schools this Fall.

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According to a story aired on WIVB-TV, the spokesperson blames the COVID-19 state of emergency for having been rescinded.

“With the end of the state disaster emergency on June 25, 2021, school districts are reestablished as the controlling entity for schools,” New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says. “Schools and school districts should develop plans to open in-person in the fall as safely as possible, and I recommend following guidance from the CDC and local health departments.”

Here is a statement the Erie County Department of Health shared with local school leaders:

“Our department has just learned, as you surely have heard, that NYS has confirmed that it will not be issuing K-12 school COVID-19 guidance before the start of the school year. We had been operating with the assumption that this guidance was forthcoming from NYSDOH.

Given this news, our office of epidemiology and school team are reviewing existing school guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with lessons that our department has learned throughout this pandemic. We understand the extreme time constraints under which you and your colleagues are working, and we will share our next steps with this group as soon as we can.”

President of the Erie-Niagara Superintendents Association, Michael Cornell,  expects districts to remain in control of their own plans and that he’s waiting to make a decision about masks but he’s planning for three feet of distance.

Niagara Falls superintendent Mark Laurrie said the state couldn’t have made a better decision when it comes to school guidance in the fall in letting districts make their own decisions.

Laurrie said:

“We’ve got a proven track record of 1,500 students in summer for 20-25 days and what worked well was that masks were strongly recommended but not mandatory,” he said.

Laurrie doesn’t plan to mandate distancing but will ask school staff to make their “best effort” to keep kids three feet apart.

Both superintendents said all students will be in school five days a week and agreed that’s a huge benefit.

They’ll continue to keep an eye on the Delta variant and they will pivot as needed.


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