ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Departments of Health and Education sent a letter to schools this week recommending several measures to fight the simultaneous outbreak of flu, RSV and COVID-19.
The notice, signed by outgoing Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and Education Commissioner Betty Rosa, includes a renewed recommendation for “wearing a well-fitting, high-quality mask when in public indoor spaces.” This is not a mandate.
Schools are also encouraged to work with their local health departments and families on vaccination efforts, hygiene, and staying home when sick or symptomatic.
News 8 is reached out to local districts to see if they are implementing any new initiatives heading into the holidays.
College professor Martha Majsak still masks up and believes masks are what work against the worst of RSV and COVID.
“I used to get like two to three flus a year and I’ve been wearing the mask because of COVID, but I’ve also kept it on and now I haven’t gotten the flu or been sick at all in three years,” Majsak said.
On top of masking, the Department of Health and Education Department encourage students and families to stay up to date on flu-shots, covid vaccines, washing your hands often and cover your sneezes or coughing with your arm or wrist.
School districts like Gananda say they already encourage this, except masking.
“That is something that the County advises us on so there’s been no advise from our county,” Gananda Superintendent Shawn Van Scoy said. “They know what the needs are so right now there’s no change in what our expectations are in terms of masks. We’re not requiring masks; we’re not asking people to wear masks unless it’s supporting people that are choosing to wear masks.”
In the past three weeks, laboratory confirmed flu cases in New York have nearly tripled while flu related hospitalizations have doubled. But some feel masking should still be a personal choice at this stage.
“A voluntary approach is really where we should be right now. I think that when it was mandated it caused a whole lot of problems. But again, I do believe in masks, I do believe in social distancing, I do believe in ensuring all of us take precautions to ensure we’re safe,” grandfather of two Charles Reaves said.
The Department of Health went on in their letter to emphasize when you take these precautions, you’re not only protecting yourself, but also children and the elderly who are vulnerable and more likely to be hospitalized from RSV.
The other precaution families should keep in mind is if your child or anyone in the home feels sick, make sure they stay home.