What we do and don’t know about reopening schools this fall

What we do and don’t know about reopening schools this fall

East Farmingdale, NY-  Many school districts across Long Island spent the summer waiting for guidelines to arrive from New York State officials with plans on how to reopen schools for the 2021-2022 school year but on Thursday many were shocked to learn that the state would not be providing that guidance. New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, “With the end of the state disaster emergency on June 25, 2021, school districts are reestablished as the controlling entity for schools. Schools and school districts should develop plans to open in-person in the fall as safely as possible, and I recommend following guidance from the CDC and local health departments.”

The CDC has recommended universal masking for all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers and visitors for K-12 regardless of vaccination status.  They also suggest at least three feet of social distancing be maintained between students in classrooms, combined with; health screening, ventilation, handwashing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation, also cleaning and disinfection and cohorting of students.  In areas of the United States with moderate to high COVID-19 transmission, the CDC suggest weekly COVID-19 testing for students.  With regard to sports, testing is recommended at least once per week for all high risk sports, regardless of community level of transmission rates.  In areas of the country where transmission rates are substantial twice weekly covid testing for students in high risk sports is suggested and in areas of high transmission rates, the CDC suggests cancelling high risk sports and extracurricular activities.  As of August 4, the CDC also recommends,  “fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to be tested 3-5 days after exposure, regardless of whether they have symptoms”.

With regard to guidance for reopening schools within Suffolk County, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said ” As we have done from the onset of the pandemic, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services will coordinate closely with school districts on guidelines for a safe return to school in the fall”.

Nassau and Suffolk counties continue to focus efforts on increasing COVID-19 vaccination numbers.  On Thursday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, announced a vaccination pod for county workers and their families, with vaccination centers set up at several locations across the county, more information is available, here.

In Suffolk County, pop up COVID-19 vaccination events begin next week, the first is scheduled for August 10th at the Patchogue Medford LIbrary, with additional stops next week in the towns of Bay Shore, Copiague, Holbrook and more.  A full list of pop up vaccination events is available, here.


Our requests for comments about reopening schools to the offices of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, went unanswered.


Photo: Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, center, joins with students at Lehman High School for a roundtable discussion about the COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in New York. Some of the students have been vaccinated and some have not. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging everyone in K-12 schools to wear a mask when they return to class, regardless of vaccination status. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)