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Niagara County: If state says it's our call, we will greenlight full school reopening


Mon, Mar 22nd 2021 02:05 pm

Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh and Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton on Monday said they are in favor of allowing school districts that can meet the new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) safety measure to fully reopen – provided they continue to meet the other existing opening guidelines.

They are waiting on further clarification from New York state if it is now the county’s decision to make.

“For the longest time during this pandemic, all directives came from Gov. Cuomo with no discretion for local health departments,” Wydysh said. “That has been changing and, if we can confirm that the decision to adopt the new CDC guidelines is our call, then we are going to greenlight school districts to move forward to reopen.”

The new CDC criteria calls for 3 feet of distance between students rather than 6 feet.

Stapleton said he has received many phone calls from superintendents, parents and teachers asking about the change in social distance guidelines and what that means for fully opening schools.

“My answer has been consistent: We either need the state to adopt the new CDC guideline or clearly acknowledge it is now up to the local health departments to make that call,” he said. “In either of those scenarios, it’s full speed ahead. To be 100% clear, if the state says I have authority to adopt the CDC guidelines, I will do so immediately and school superintendents can begin preparing accordingly.”

Wydysh said she again asked the state for clarification on Friday and was told something would be coming out as soon as the beginning of this week.

“The CDC has finally made the decision that many parents have been waiting for,” she said. “There is no reason for New York state to drag their feet. We’ll be glad to make the decision for them here in Niagara County; just give us the authority.”

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