As the schools across the state prepare to reopen in the fall, the New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers are demanding that state health officials issue clear protocols for how and when school districts must close their buildings, and how health officials will perform contact tracing and initiate quarantines in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in a school this fall.
New York's teachers' unions said a single COVID-19 case in a school should require the closure of the building and a return to remote learning for 14 days before revisiting whether it is safe for the building to reopen. In addition, the unions are demanding clear statewide directives for how immediate contact tracing is to be conducted and for how mandatory and precautionary quarantining for those who may have been exposed in schools is to be implemented by local health officials.
The president of the Rome Teacher's Association, Rob Wood, says having a clear policy is important in the decision for parents to allow their kids to return to school, as well as the teacher's decision to return.
“If it’s a family of students, where something happens in one building, it's an extension and the possibility is a lot of people are exposed in a short period of time," Wood said. "Safety first, know what the plan is before we ask parents and the members that work in the facility to make a decision.”
Wood says he is confident in Rome's reopening plans, but they still need to know ahead of time what will happen if someone tests positive for the virus.
“I feel confident in that what we developed locally had the safety of everyone," Wood said. "I also feel confident that our leadership in NYSUT will force hopefully the Governor to make the right decision as far as what are we going to do, lay out the plan in advance so it's very clear what the procedures are during this process."