Every September, we take the time to remind our kids about school safety. From properly crossing the street to confirming they have a code word in place for unexpected school pick-ups, ensuring our kids know how to stay safe when they walk out the front door is paramount. This year, as we continue to face rising cases across the state, we must add COVID-19 safety guidelines to the list of things we need to discuss. As the beginning of the school year approaches, parents and guardians should know that there are updated COVID-19 guidelines and requirements in place to keep our kids healthy and safe. Parents and guardians should stay updated on their school district’s specific rules and should regularly check in with both their school districts and their county in the days leading up to the beginning of school as guidelines may change.
All teachers and school employees in Onondaga County are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. This is an important safety protocol that will help protect younger students who are not yet eligible for the vaccine themselves. Masks will also be required for anyone who enters a school building. Students must sit at least three feet apart, or six feet apart if they are unvaccinated. If students feel sick, they should stay home and get tested for COVID-19. I encourage all parents and guardians to take advantage of the new sick leave provisions that we included in last year’s budget, which extend annual sick leave policies to all public and private sector employees.
The Onondaga County Health Department is currently working with the state Department of Health on contact tracing. Vaccinations are strongly encouraged for those who are eligible. While the FDA approved certain vaccines for use in those ages 12 and older with parental consent, students under age 12 are currently ineligible for the vaccine. Information on testing can be found at covid19.ongov.net/appointments. Information on vaccination and appointments can be found at covid19.ongov.net/vaccine or am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov.
Reopening our schools has been a long and difficult road, and I’d like to extend my thanks to school employees, parents and students for their patience and perseverance. I know our schools will continue careful monitoring and do everything possible to keep students and staff safe. I’ll continue working with school officials and my fellow legislators to monitor the pandemic and protect students and staff. I wish you all a safe and successful school year!
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 315-452-1115 or StirpeA@nyassembly.gov.