Local superintendent reacts to updated COVID-19 guidance

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HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) — One week before schools start across the Twin Tiers, superintendents are scrambling to adjust to the latest COVID-19 guidance released by the New York State Department of Health.

The guidance includes details on: masks, testing, social distancing, and more.

Despite the guidance being released on short notice, Dr. Thomas Douglas, superintendent for the Horseheads Central School District, is happy to be back in-person.

“I think we’re trying to hit the ground running with a much more positive tone because we are going to be open five days a week in person and that is a major change,” said Dr. Douglas.

However, Dr. Douglas is frustrated at the leaders in Albany.

“The notification that came out at about 8:40 p.m. last night is typical of New York State and definitely typical of Dr. Howard Zucker who does not understand how the real world works,” said Dr. Douglas. “As far as my colleagues, we will adjust, as we have always done, and try to do the best we can. But, this late, breaking, immediate requirement right before we open is quite tedious.”

A major part of the guidelines? Masks are mandatory.

“Would we rather see everybody’s faces?,” asked Dr. Douglas. “Absolutely. Are we going to fight for that? Absolutely, but we also have to do it with health and safety. We really support everybody on both sides of the issue and that is what causes consternation at times because people feel they are not being listened to, but they are.”

Dr. Douglas said the real decision making occurs in Albany through Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Department of Health. He also thanked County Executive Chris Moss and the county health department as they will be helping schools adjust to these latest requirements.

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