By the New York State School Boards Association
Two-thirds of school board members said they need additional support or guidance from state and local health officials in preparing for a possible coronavirus outbreak, according to a poll by the New York State School Boards Association.
Sixty-six percent of board members responding to the survey indicated additional support was needed. Thirteen percent said no additional support from state and local health officials was necessary, while 21% were not sure.
"Coronavirus represents a brand-new challenge for schools and other institutions, and it’s clear from the survey that most board members need additional guidance about how to deal with it," NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider said. "Given that schools have experience dealing with epidemics such as flu and measles, I am confident that they – in partnership with local and state health officials – will establish the necessary precautions and procedures to keep students and staff safe."
According to the poll, 70% of school board members identified protocols/plans for monitoring illness in students and staff as being the most helpful type of support state or local health officials could provide to them. Majorities also cited protocols/plans for cleaning and disinfecting school buildings (identified by 58% of school board members) and building level infection control practices, such as hand and respiratory hygiene (55%), as being the most helpful types of support.
If a coronavirus outbreak were to result in school closures in New York, 88% of school board members believe schools should not lose funding if their schools were open for instruction for fewer than 180 days. State law requires a reduction in state aid for each day less than 180 days that schools are in session unless a waiver is granted by the state.
Poll results are based on a random sample of 390 school board members surveyed between Feb. 28 and March 4. The poll has a margin of error of +/-4.7% and a confidence level of 95%.
The New York State School Boards Association represents more than 670 school boards and more than 5,200 school board members in New York. NYSSBA provides advocacy, training and information to school boards in support of their mission to govern the state's public schools.