ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Under new state guidance for re-opening schools, most elementary schools can start bringing students back into classrooms full-time by April 19th. That’s the plan for elementary schools in the Brighton Central School District but for older middle and high school students, they’ll have to wait just a little longer-as the community transmission rate is just too high here in Monroe County.
The updated guidance for reopening allows for three feet social distancing for elementary schools, however, for middle and high school students, social distancing will depend on the current rate of infection within the county.
“Tremendous relief. We have been waiting for this, advocating, asking for a long time,” said Kevin McGowan, superintendent for Brighton schools .
The reduction in social distancing means more students can come back to classrooms but it’s not the case for all grades. In Brighton, middle and high schools will still be hybrid.
This is because the new guidelines say schools must either be able to cohort students or continue using 6 feet distance in communities with high transmission rates.
“6-12 kids don’t cohort or group individually in classes like the elementary do. But I think they’re very reasonably. I think that we can do a lot and it makes perfect sense I think it keeps kids safe it keeps adults safe and it’s a step in the right directions,” said McGowan.
This will be the case for most schools in Monroe County, where the 7 Day Average of New COVID-19 Positive Cases is currently over 200.
Some groups like Open Schools Monroe County believing tying community transmission rates with school reopening is keeping older students out of classrooms.
“They’re still going to be stuck fully remote or hybrid and of course this is the groups that is higher at risk for mental health disorders and for suicides and for other problems,” said Nicole Sidhu, Open Schools Monroe County.
But the change in guidelines is a positive sign for some high school families like the Widells. Shea Widell a senior in high school just got vaccinated and is hoping for a normal end to the school year.
“I’m a proponent, especially as long as everyone is vaccinated, I’m a proponent of trying to get back to normal and get some sense of normalcy for the end of his senior year,” said Tom Widell, Shea’s father.
Middle and High Schoolers can return under 3 feet social distancing if community transmission rates drop.
This is something the Brighton superintendent will be checking weekly.
Face masks are still required at all times, except for meals. The full 24-page guidance can be found here.