Late Announcement On School Reopening Sows Confusion

First, the good news- the governor has confirmed what my Republican colleagues and I have been saying for months: it’s safe for our children to return to school this fall.

As we’ve re-opened more and more sectors of our economy this spring and summer, our infection rates have remained extremely low. For months, it’s been clear that our communities crushed the COVID-19 curve. For months, it’s been clear that distance and screen-based learning were shortchanging our kids. Hundreds of thousands of children across the state lack a reliable internet connection, and students with developmental disabilities desperately need the personalized, professional instruction they receive from special educators and service providers.

We know that we’ve been beating back the virus for quite some time now. We’ve known that our kids need in-person classroom instruction. That means the governor waiting until now to make a decision is a major misstep.

It complicates matters that the governor’s guidance for school officials is vague, confusing, and, in some cases, contradictory. From my reading of his directive, schools are not even required to fully re-open. They’re merely permitted to.

Initially, school officials were told by the education department that they would not be responsible for testing. Now, the governor’s Department of Health guidelines say that schools need to submit a testing plan to the state for approval. The CDC recommends that healthcare providers handle testing. Our schools are facing massive budget cuts. How are they going to afford thousands of COVID-19 tests?

I understand that these are complicated issues. That’s why the governor should’ve already had a plan in place months ago. To decide that schools can re-open mere weeks before the start of the term on the condition of compliance with dozens of complex, contradictory and costly mandates is not real leadership. The governor frequently complains that there is no consistent strategy coming from Washington during these uncertain times. That seems pretty hypocritical to me. 

What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, or find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook.  

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