MAYVILLE, N.Y.: – On March 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an update to its Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention. This strategy includes revised recommendations for physical distancing in classrooms based on grade level and level of community COVID-19 transmission. Using the CDC metrics for low, moderate, substantial or high transmission, Chautauqua County currently falls within the low transmission category.
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) established reopening guidance for P-12 schools in the summer of 2020. School districts and schools are responsible for policies and practices that align with that guidance. NYSED and NYSDOH are the agencies with the authority to make changes to that guidance. Local health departments have no authority to change school reopening rules. School personnel or parents with questions or concerns about in-person learning in P-12 schools in New York State should contact NYSED and/or NYSDOH.
A summary of the recent CDC changes includes:
- Revised physical distancing recommendations to reflect at least 3 feet between students in classrooms and provide clearer guidance when a greater distance (such as 6 feet) is recommended.
- Clarified that ventilation is a component of strategies to clean and maintain healthy facilities.
- Removed recommendation for physical barriers.
- Clarified the role of community transmission levels in decision-making.
- Added guidance on interventions when clusters occur.
“It is important to note that even if New York State adopts the CDC school recommendations, including decreasing physical distancing from 6 feet to 3 feet, the rules for contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts to someone confirmed to have COVID-19 remain the same,” said Christine Schuyler, County Public Health Director. “Any students and unvaccinated school personnel who are identified as being within 6 feet of the individual who tests positive for COVID-19 for more than 10 cumulative minutes will still be required to quarantine.”
The CDC’s guidance can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/operation-strategy.html.
Current New York State school reopening guidance can be found at: http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/reopening-schools/nys-p12-school-reopening-guidance.pdf.