Albany Health Commissioner on remote vs. in-person learning: ‘Schools know their communities best’

Albany County

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and Health Commissioner Dr. Liza Whalen spent a large portion of Monday’s COVID-19 update clarifying the county’s position on in-person learning for local school districts.

“I know parents are mad, but I stand by what I said,” McCoy told reporters of his initial recommendation that schools consider going on a “pause” from in-person learning, as the county deals with the effects of the holidays on COVID-19 numbers.

“As kids are coming back to the classroom after being on break, likely going to holiday gatherings, possibly even traveling to different states,” McCoy explained, “what we do today affects us tomorrow.”

From Gov. Cuomo’s Monday covid update

Dr. Whalen broke down the details of her meeting with county superintendents ahead of the return to school, emphasizing that the decision to switch to a remote model was left entirely up to the individual districts, with no specific directive on the state or county level. She says she started off the call by explaining where the county currently stands with COVID-19, and lots of conversations took place about options for remote learning.

“I reinforce the idea that schools know their communities and their needs best, know their parents best, and know how they need to serve their children best,” Dr. Whalen said.

Both Whalen and McCoy still share concerns about the current COVID-19 community spread in Albany County, and how cases are rising among school-aged children. However, Dr. Whalen added that there are other factors that play into a district’s decision, like a parent’s ability to stay home with their child.

The call ultimately ended with the decision that going remote or staying in-person is up to each district.

While Albany City Schools and Bethlehem Central Schools are going remote for now, Guilderland Central Schools and Watervliet City Schools are continuing in-person instruction.

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