Infectious disease expert evaluates local school districts reopening plans


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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Schools across the Southern Tier are slowly submitting their reopening plans as today marks their deadline to do so. In the Northern Tier, a few schools are working on their reopening plans as well.

In New York school districts must plan for in-person, remote, and hybrid learning options. Some schools will allow families to choose between in-person and remote learning, and others are working on alternate-day schedules.

The state will then review these plans and make the decision if these schools will be allowed to proceed with reopening.

While in Pennsylvania, the reopening plan must be online before resuming in-person instruction.

One local infectious disease expert at Arnot Health, Dr. Justin Nistico, talks to 18 news about his evaluations on the reopening plans presented.

The Hornell City School District released a 13 page reopening plan asking families to respond by August 13th.

Dr. Nistico said he believes the guidance behind this reopening plan is strong.

“I think that that’s definitely a solid plan,” said Nistico. “Handwashing has definitely shown to reduce rate of infection spread. Mask wearing has reduced, if someone is coming down with something and is not showing full blown symptoms, it’ll help reduce spread to other children.”

For a school in Pennsylvania, Dr. Nistico evaluated Williamson High School’s pictures of reopening with a new normal.

“There’s always going to be a risk if you go to the school each day, but I think if you have children trying to maintain the six feet of distancing and wearing masks, that’s as best as they could potentially be in terms of being in a classroom,” said Nistico.

He said parents and teachers are responsible for guiding children’s’ actions and teaching them how to stay clean and healthy.

“There’s a lot of trickiness to it because kids are going to be harder, children are going to be harder, to kind of have sit in one particular place and not move around the classroom,” said Nistico. “It’s going to be tricky to police that.”

Here’s a full list of schools that have released their reopening plans.

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