All six Columbia County school districts — Hudson, Ichabod Crane, Taconic Hills, Germantown, Chatham and New Lebanon — each reported COVID-19 data Thursday to the state Health Department and are in compliance with the state mandate.
The same goes for each of Greene County’s six school districts, including Catskill, Cairo-Durham, Coxsackie-Athens, Greenville, Windham-Ashland-Jewett and Hunter-Tannersville, which last reported data to the Health Department on Thursday.
The Catskill district on Monday announced one positive case and delayed the start of hybrid classes — which were originally slated to begin Monday — to at least Wednesday.
In both counties, districts were wise to comply with state reporting requirements because the state will close any New York school district that fails to submit daily COVID-19 testing and infection data. If the state makes good on this mandate, schools will be indefinitely shuttered to in-person classes and limited to remote learning.
All schools, local health departments, laboratories and testing sites are required to report daily coronavirus data to the Health Department for inclusion on the state’s tracker.
As of Friday, 648 school districts submitted data, including the 12 in Greene and Columbia counties. Forty-two schools received orders for noncompliance in submitting data. Put bluntly, the noncompliant schools violated the law.
Ninety-seven new COVID-19 cases in schools across the state were reported Thursday, including 58 positive New York students and 39 teachers and staff members. That’s a relatively high number and it comes too close to putting in-person school in jeopardy.
A rise in coronavirus cases was expected when schools reopened in September. The state needs to have the data to know if the schools are operating safely. Parents of schoolchildren were advised the state would have the data. They were also told a trend toward problematic situations would result in the closing of schools. Without the data, children would walk into school blind. If the state can’t reassure parents the schools are safe, elementary and secondary education will be back where it started when the pandemic peaked in April.
A tip of the cap to the school districts of Columbia and Greene counties for playing by the rules and taking the education of our children seriously. We only hope other school districts will learn from them.