NY education leaders call for additional guidance ahead of school reopening

Education

Students read to one another during a summer program before the COVID-19 pandemic (Courtesy Freedom Schools Austin)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — Leaders in New York’s education system are calling for more guidance to allow for schools to safely reopen this fall.

On Thursday, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker issued a statement saying that the state will not be issuing any guidance for the reopening of schools in September. In response, the the New York State Department of Education called on the state to release additional guidance, aiming to assist schools in opening this September.

Additionally, State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa sent a letter asking Commissioner Zucker to provide this guidance. The statement issued by the NYSED read:

Notwithstanding the position of the Executive Chamber that the Department of Health (DOH) will not be releasing guidance to assist schools with welcoming students back to safe and healthy learning environments in September, Commissioner of Education Betty A. Rosa has sent a letter asking Commissioner Howard Zucker to consider DOH’s statutory responsibilities as the state agency devoted to protecting the public health.  

The Public Health Law provides that the Department of Health is charged with exercising control over and supervising the abatement of nuisances affecting or likely to affect public health as well as supervising and advising any local unit of government and the public health officials thereof within the state in the performance of their official duties.  Currently, there is no greater nuisance affecting public health and safety than COVID-19. 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 circumstances enveloping the Executive Chamber this week should not prevent the Department of Health from the execution of its responsibilities to the public, as has been promised by the Governor’s office for months.  

Many schools in the state are set to begin the 2021-2022 academic year immediately following the Labor Day holiday in early September.

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