HORSEHEADS, NY (WETM) – With one month until schools open, the New York State Health Department will not be issuing guidelines for schools. Now, local officials are under a lot of pressure to get a plan together before students get back to the classrooms.
School districts in New York have been told since late May, up until the day before receiving this news from Dr. Howard Zucker Wednesday night, that they would be receiving guidance for reopening from the governor, according to a local superintendent.
“To have Dr. Howard Zucker… As the director of public health in New York state during a pandemic is absolutely, wholeheartedly, an abomination of leadership,” said Horseheads Central School District Superintendent, Dr. Thomas J. Douglas.
This last-minute decision by the New York Health Department has frustrated school officials who were waiting on COVID guidance from the state. The State Education Department chimed in and even suggested in a statement that the department’s decision-makers were distracted by Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal.
“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”Statment from the New York State Education Department
“If they would have told us in June, school district, local health officials would be in the same situation as they are now, but we at least would have some opportunity to collaborate and work together,” said Dr. Douglas.
With the COVID cases rising and the concern of the highly contagious Delta Variant, school officials say the safety protocols from last year will look more or less the same this year.
“There is no question we’re going to see outbreaks in schools with this Delta Variant. the question is how many, and how big will they get,” said prominent epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm.
Chemung county executive says they will be issuing guidance within the next one to two weeks.
“What we’re doing right now is sifting through all the CDC guidance, so we can come up with plans for the schools that mirror that guidance,” said Chris Moss, Chemung County Executive.
Dr. Douglas says he will not consider postponing the school year start date and that he along with local officials is working diligently to work this out.