Cuomo says schools will remain open unless positivity rate is above community average
Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday gave new guidance for counties in the state, including Suffolk where the infection rate is more than 9%.
He says schools can stay open if the testing in the schools shows a positivity rate below the community average.
"If the children are safer in the school than they are on the streets of the community, then children should be in school," Cuomo said. "If their schools are below the level of positivity in the community, then they can keep the schools open. It is up to the local school district to make that decision."
Dr. Sharon Nachman, with Stony Brook Children's Hospital, agrees with the governor's announcement.
"Transmission is not occurring in the schools," said Nachman. "The schools are doing something right and the kids and the staff in the schools are doing something right, so being allowed to stay in school longer while community numbers are increasing is going to be helpful."
Nachman says just because the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 is going up in a community, it doesn't mean cases are also rising in the schools.
Some of the reasons are that everyone wears a mask, students are separated by pods or partitions, and they are mostly contained to one room.
Nachman stresses that until the vaccine is widely available, mask wearing and social distancing all of the time is critical to keeping the infection rate down.