NY North Country schools, parents react to Cuomo return to school plan

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 5:02 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y (WCAX) - Parents in New York now have a better idea of what school might look like come fall. Governor Andrew Cuomo Monday provided preliminary guidance and said the state plans to handle the reopening of schools like it did economy. Our Kelly O’Brien spoke with school officials and parents about Cuomo’s approach.

The governor said if a schools fall in a region that is already in Phase 4 of reopening and have less than a five percent infection rate over a 14-day average, the school can reopen. But, if a school jumps to over a nine percent infection rate over a seven day period, it will not open. "That means the virus is moving rapidly and it is not intelligent to open," Cuomo said.

"Our hope is to that we will be able to be in person, and at this point we're looking very good and we are very pleased with that," said Mark Davey, Champlain Valley Educational Services BOCES District Superintendent. He oversees 16 North Country schools that share services and says the state guidelines are the first step in figuring out what school could look like come fall

"Plan for those three models, plan for the in-person, plan for the blended model, and also plan for a remote home,"Davey said.

He says they are still in the planning phase for each school and its safety plan. If an outbreak were to occur, the districts all will abide by the state guidelines Governor Cuomo released Monday, but he says each school likely will follow its own specific plan.

"Follow the guidance, develop well thought out plans and then implement them with fidelity," Davey said.

Sara Laundry, a Beekmantown parent, says it's too soon to send her daughter back to the classroom as we continue to learn more about the virus. "I'm 100 percent to the point of distance learning or I'll pull her out and home school her," Laundry said. "Teacher might feel fine, student might be fine -- no fever -- but someone in that room has COVID."

Laundry says masks and social distancing can distract students from their education. "That's all they are going to fixate on. You can't breath, it's uncomfortable, it's pulling down on -- you wear glasses like some of us. It's a pain," she said.

Laundry's daughter, Emily, is an incoming 11th grader who she says falls on the autism spectrum. She says she lost her own mom to COVID-19 in April and will not risk her daughter getting the virus. "When it effects your family like it did ours, it really heightens your awareness of it. And I know I've been very over the top and it's just because I don't want to lose another family member," Laundry said.

As for Emily -- she says she would rather continue distant learning from home and that it made her a better, more focused student. “I don’t do good in a social aspect of school. I did really good. It actually helped me get to the point of passing on my classes,” she said.

School districts are working with their local health department on how to handle an outbreak if it should happen.

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