(WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — As COVID-19 cases rise students are heading back to school…and now its up to the districts to decide on covid-19 protocols.
“In a nutshell what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to keep school open. What we’re looking at is universal masking,” said Sandra Sherwood District Superintendent & CEO of Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES.
Sherwood tells us that while there will be mask protocols in place this year, they will be more relaxed. Universal masking does not mean masks are worn all day, 24/7. Students will be given opportunities to take their masks off.
“Everybody needs to wear a mask whether they’re vaccinated or not when we’re in common spaces…in the classroom moving around. But if we can create a classroom that has 3 feet between students and has good ventilation, we can set it up so that students can have their masks off when they’re seated. We can have mask breaks” Sherwood said.
The use of universal masking means you may need to only quarantine those that sit directly around the infected student. Now that vaccines are readily available to school staff and students 12 and up, the quarantine procedures will be different based on who is already vaccinated and if you are asymptomatic, but Sherwood tells us these decisions will have to be made on a case-by-case basis.
“If you’re vaccinated and you don’t have any symptoms then you won’t be required to quarantine. you will be asked to wear your mask for 14 days after the exposure and you will be asked to get a COVID test somewhere between the third and fifth day just to make sure you probably haven’t developed it. but again its not mandatory you will be asked to do that,” Sherwood added.
Sherwood says that the school districts are reviewing the New York State Education Department Health and Safety Guide and expect to release the final protocol for the school year out to families within the next two weeks.