Dr. Mendoza talks schools, new CDC guidance with County Legislature


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Dr. Michael Mendoza, the Monroe County Public Health Commissioner, appeared before a virtual joint committee meeting in the Monroe County Legislature Monday to discuss schools reopening.

“I think we can all agree, that we want to have schools open,” said Dr. Mendoza, “But, I think we can all agree that we want them to be open safely.”

Dr. Mendoza told lawmakers his understanding is the authority rests with the state to make the decision to reopen five days per week, not the County Health Department.

“It’s not my role to review any of these plans, to direct the schools in any way,” said Mendoza, “I offer clinical guidelines, clinical recommendations.”

Mendoza estimates to meet CDC guidelines, the county would need to average 53 new cases per day per 100,000 at a 7-day rate. Currently, Mendoza said, the county is averaging in the low 100s per day.

The CDC released updated guidelines on reopening all in-person earlier this month.

In the Monday meeting, Mendoza advocated teachers getting the COVID-19 vaccine and highlighted the mental health impacts of the pandemic.

MORE: 6 feet of distancing a roadblock for fully reopening Monroe County schools

Some local districts, including the Victor Central School District, have openly supported a fully in-person reopening.

“We are advocating for a common set of data-driven metrics that will serve as our guideposts to identify when it is appropriate to fully reopen schools for in-person learning five days a week,” wrote Tim Terranova, the district’s superintendent, in a letter to Governor Cuomo.

In a Monday call, Governor Andrew Cuomo released a new set of guidance for schools. The state wants schools to report how many teachers have been vaccinated, how many teachers are doing in-person teaching, and what percent of the week is in-person.

The state wants the data on a weekly basis, Gov. Cuomo said.

Check back with News 8 as we continue to update this developing story.

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