Health Department Guide For School Reopening

GOSHEN – The Orange County Health Department has released an informative Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide that will assist the County’s 17 school district in addressing COVID-19 health safety parameters and contact tracing requirements for schools to consider while reopening this fall.

The County’s health department has consistently communicated with school administrators as they prepare for the start of the school year, and the recent FAQ provides answers to their specific questions, as well as those of parents throughout the County.

“We are dedicated to working with our school districts in creating a safe environment for our students during these unprecedented times,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said. “Orange County remains committed to working collectively to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our residents from the illness. Taking preventative measures such as wearing a mask, washing your hands often, following timely isolation and quarantine measures after testing/ traveling, as well as practicing social distancing are important safeguards that will help us weather this storm. Working together we will get through this crisis.”

Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman and her staff worked in collaboration with school superintendents to create the guidance. Gelman said that schools should use it to help develop their health and safety plans for reopening that are required by the New York State Department of Education. School district governing bodies, with input from their medical directors, must approve health and safety plans and submit the plans, tailored to their unique local needs, to the state before reopening. Having a plan approved is required to reopen schools for in-person instruction.

Gelman stated that “although the complete list of recommendations is on our website, the idea behind the guidelines is to protect our schools by staying vigilant and proactive in our response to monitoring the health of school participants.”

“These are challenging times, the OCDOH staff have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response since the beginning of the local impact of this global pandemic, we have been on weekly calls with our school superintendents and County Executive Neuhaus, collaboratively navigating through the pandemic,” Gelman added. “This communication allowed us to exchange critical information and collaborate on the guidance for the re-opening of schools. The health and safety of our children and community members are of the utmost importance and we will continue to provide support to our school district during these unprecedented times.”

COVID-19 resources are available via the OCDOH website, Facebook page, and the Orange County NY free app.

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