New York State Health, Education Departments release guidance to schools on the coronavirus

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Monday, the New York State Health and Education Departments released guidance to schools teaching students in grades Pre-K to 12 on how handle the coronavirus.

If a student or faculty member does have a confirmed case of COVID-19, the school would have to close for 24 hours so that the building could properly be disinfected.

“The real point of the 24 hour period is for department of health officials to consult with us to understand the scope, to look for connections that the student might have had with other people, then to decide the next steps for planning if the school can reopen the next day, or if it has to be an extended closure,” explained Kathleen Skeals, North Colonie Deputy Superintendent.

It will be up to local department of health officials to make the determination as to how long the school should be closed. The state is also urging teachers to be prepared when it comes to lessons.

“They do want us to make sure we are updating all of our online resources, our curriculum materials, and luckily we live in the day and age that we do, so there is a lot more we can do technologically that we couldn’t do, even 10 years ago.,” said Skeals. “So we are pooling together as a region to make sure that not every individual district isn’t doing this, but we are helping each other out if anyone should face an extended exposure.”

According to Deputy Executive Director of the New York State School Board Association, Jay Worona, there are still many issues that have yet to be determined when it comes to schools being closed for an extended duration.

“We know not all districts have the ability to provide distance learning to all children. In some districts, you couldn’t provide any distance learning to any student because there wouldn’t be the appropriate internet access etcetera,” said Worona. “So that’s an area that’s not really yet known.”

He said another challenge of distance learning is figuring out how to provide physical and occupational therapy services to children who need it. However, the state guidance document does discuss continuing meal programs for students with low-income families.

“A lot of these kids go to school, and it’s the only meal that they are getting for the day, so in the guidance document that the governor’s office put out, it instructs schools to work with local food pantries to try to ensure that these children are in fact fed,” explained Worona.

According to the North Colonie Deputy Superintendent, the district has been reminding students to wash their hands and will continue to update the school’s website to keep parents informed.

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