ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — School districts across New York won’t be receiving guidance from the state ahead of the upcoming school year, a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed to NewsChannel 9.
Neither Cuomo’s office nor the State Health Department will issue any kind of guidance for the reopening of schools next month, the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson blamed the COVID-19 state of emergency having been rescinded.
Individual school districts have been re-established as the controlling entities for schools, Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.
“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,” he said.
State Commissioner of Education Betty Rosa sent a letter to Zucker asking him to consider the Health Department’s “statutory responsibilities as the state agency devoted to protecting the public health,” according to the state Education Department.
“There is an urgent need for timely advice and supervision flowing from the State Department of Health to local and school officials as they navigate these uncertain times,” the NYSDOE said.
In New York City, there’s been an increased effort to get more students vaccinated ahead of the new academic year. A spokesperson for the city Department of Education said they’ve been planning for a full return to schools for months.
“We will continue to follow CDC guidance, work with our local public health experts and the people who know our schools best as we prepare to welcome all students back on September 13th,” the spokesperson said.
NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi confirmed to the PIX11 Morning News that everyone in the school setting, including students, teachers and staff, will need to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
“It’s been one of the most important layers of safety,” he said.
NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said that while NYC schools will always have different options for immunocompromised students, there will not be a remote option widely available like last year.
The schools chancellor said they feel it’s important to have students and teachers in the classroom, as the children’s mental health is another risk they must consider.
“The most important thing we can do for kids under 12 is to ensure everyone around them is vaccinated,” Chokshi added.
Last week, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said that he was prepared to create guidelines for schools if the state didn’t implement any.
“We will do back to school testing for faculty and all the districts just like we did last year so that we can try to find any pockets of the virus within staff. But as important we will have robust testing and screening in schools. I think that’s really important and we have received federal funding through the state of New York for that program,” McMahon said.