NEW YORK — The COVID-19 Report Card, as New York state’s public, interactive tracking tool has been called, is another mandate for the health departments in Genesee and Orleans counties to work with the schools on, Public Health Director Paul Pettit said this week.
“Ultimately, the goal is to work collaboratively with the schools to make sure we’re trying to keep the kids and the staff and the residents as safe as we can,” he said Wednesday. “Ultimately, we’ve been in touch with our school superintendents and we’re going to work with them to provide the data that’s being requested.
“Primarily, on the health department side, we’ll be making sure we’re reporting on positive cases in each of the school districts on a daily basis,” he said.
Parents and caregivers of school-age children can monitor the number of students and staff infected with COVID-19. The report card will track virus infections and testing results in each of the state’s 713 school districts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared an executive order Tuesday requiring each school, local health department, labs and testing sites to report daily coronavirus data to the state Department of Health to be included on the new tracker.
“We will comply with the DOH (state Department of Health) request to report testing information that we are aware of for all of our students and staff,” Elba Superintendent Ned Dale said Thursday. “It may be beneficial to know results in our region, but we have been monitoring the daily report from Genesee County.
“I think the form could see some enhancements to improve the efficiency and hope that changes will be made to decrease the burden. Elba will comply with this request,” he said of the state’s data tracker.
After calling for a statewide mandate that masks be worn at all times indoors during the school day, New York State United Teachers last week said that in the absence of statewide action, county governments should mandate such a policy for school districts within their jurisdiction.
Pettit said that at the moment, the state guidelines given to the schools to develop their safety plans allowed flexibility.
“The districts were allowed to make decisions locally at each school, whether they wanted to mandate masks to be warn at all times except for masking breaks, or if they wanted to be a little more flexible and once students are seated, safely social distanced apart, that they would be allowed to take their masks off,” he said. “We’ve been pretty consistent with following state guidelines. We don’t have any intention at the moment to move toward a countywide mandate for masking requirements. It’s up to the schools.
“If the state wants to change it, the state says ‘Look, we’re changing the guidelines, you now have to wear masks,’ then the state would make that change. We’re not going to be more restrictive than they are,” Pettit said.
Dale said at Elba, students must be wearing masks at all times when social distancing is not possible.
“While at their desk, students may take off their masks. Feedback from the parents was very strong about having mask breaks and an ability to remove their masks,” he said. “Student and staff safety are the No. 1 concern. Our protocols for masks, handwashing and other hygiene are in place to decrease the likelihood of exposure. Our students were incredibly receptive to the masks today and they were compliant in every way. We will be closely monitoring our students and staff through the required screening process.”