ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — During a Friday press conference, Monroe County Council of School Superintendents officials gave details on how they plan to keep students and staff safe during this virus outbreak.
At this time, officials say there are no plans to close schools in Monroe County but they are urging parents to have an emergency childcare plan in place by as early as Monday.
“Education is more important than social events which is why were canceling dances, travel, field trips, things that are not a necessity,” Superintendent for Penfield Central School District and the President of the Monroe County Superintendents Association Dr. Thomas Putnam said.
“It is a health issue and we will take our direction from the Monroe County Department of Health when and if we are going to close.”
Putnam said the superintendents are all working closely with the Department of Health and taking their advice when it comes to preparations in the case of a closure.
To date, there is one local confirmed case of the virus in Monroe County, but officials say that person contracted the virus while on a trip to Italy. They also say that there is no example of local transmission, which is why they say the public health risk remains low locally.
If the time comes for a district to close, they have to close for at least 24 hours. They will identify who the person has come in contact with and make sure the building is cleaned and disinfected. If a school were to close, they each have a plan to handle online instruction based on each district’s individual capabilities.
Allendale Columbia has closed schools and moving to online classes. McQuaid announced that all classes will be available online should parents want to keep their kids at home.
“Every district is different when it comes to online, computers at home, internet access. It really will be a district by district roll out in terms of closure,” Putnam said.
Earlier this week, the Greece School District posted on its website that a student is under self-quarantine as a precaution. However, at the conference on Friday, Greece Superintendent Kathy Graupman said she knew of one faculty member who has self quarantined under precaution.
“I know of one faculty member, not a teacher, who has self quarantined and I will say that was clearly out of an abundance of care,” Graupman said.
Many colleges in the area are closing and moving to online courses out of precaution. “Every school has a different impact,” Putnam said. “Closing a college level, where they’re all young adults is very different than closing a school where child care comes into play.”
Many of the districts provide up to two meals a day for the students. Graupman said Greece is a district that provides meals through the summer so they will implement a plan similar to allow students to still get their meals in the event of a closure.
Putnam said they are working with the New York State Department of Education on what the protocol would be if schools were to close for a period of time and if the curriculum then had to extend into summer.
Guidelines the local organizations are working to implement came from either Gov. Andrew Cuomo or Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza as both met with their respective audiences on Thursday to give updates to the communities they serve.
Districts are also reminding parents to make sure emergency contact information is up-to-date if they need to receive any notices from the district.