NEW YORK — Getting children back in school safely in the fall seems to be the desire of a great many New Yorkers. How that all plays out has yet to be determined in this age of the new coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said recently that finalized guidance on how schools in the state can reopen will be issued Monday. Then local school districts have to submit their plans by July 31 on how they will reopen.
Those plans will have to include what precautions they will take and whether they will do a phased or partial reopening.
Some of the things school districts will have to consider include class size, bus transportation, serving lunches, use of libraries, disinfecting facilities, just to name a few. A major consideration is whether or not teachers and staff will feel safe being back on the job.
Cuomo said the state will announce decisions on whether schools will be allowed to reopen sometime in the first week of August.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., President Donald Trump said he would withhold federal funding to schools that don’t reopen in the fall, though he didn’t specify what funding or under what authority the money would be cut off.
He claimed Democrats want to keep schools closed for political reasons and not because of health risks from the new coronavirus.
The president tweeted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for school reopening were “very tough & expensive,” though he didn’t specify what he opposed.
On the CDC’s website, the agency said that the lowest risk school setting would involve students and teachers in virtual-only classes and activities. Of more risk would be small, in-person classes, with students staying at least 6 feet apart. That would include a mix of online and in-class instruction or staggered or rotated attendance.
The highest risk, according to the CDC, would be full-size, in-person classes, with students not spaced apart and where they share classroom materials and supplies.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos singled out as a failure a Fairfax, Virginia, school district that was employing a hybrid model in reopening — either virtual learning or a mix of two-days of in-person classes and online study.
Schools “must fully open and they must be fully operational, and how that happens is best left to education and community leaders,” she said.
Among the things the CDC recommends are staying home when appropriate, including testing positive for the virus or coming into contact with someone who is infected; hand washing; wearing cloth face coverings and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and buses. Ventilation is a prime consideration, as is installing physical barriers such as partitions.
Limiting communal spaces, including dining halls and playgrounds, is something for which the CDC said schools should also be planning.
Now it’s time for you to weigh in on the issue. Vote in our unscientific poll and tell us what you think in the comments.
This article originally appeared on the Yorktown-Somers Patch