By Kevin Limiti • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
With the delta variant of the coronavirus virus causing jumps in cases across the county and the country, some Otsego County school districts are gearing up to welcome kids back to classes with masks on.
This is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, which has labeled Otsego County as a “substantial transmission” area where, in theory, masks are recommended indoors regardless of vaccination status. COVID cases have been on the rise across the country.
In Otsego County, as of Aug. 9, there were 72 active cases and four hospitalizations.
In Cooperstown Central Schools, while instruction will be in person, there will be a universal indoor mask policy as well as three-foot social distancing while maintaining cleaning and disinfecting at the schools.
New Cooperstown Central School middle/high school Principal Karl O’Leary said School Superintendent Sarah Spross will present the reopening plan to the community at the school board meeting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 18.
O’Leary and Spross were not with the district during the past two years of pandemic learning, but O’Leary said he thinks Cooperstown will be able to respond to the delta variant and any other changes in the school year.
“It is like anything any-where you have been, you reference your past experiences and you learn and grow from them,” he said.
However, O’Leary said Cooperstown’s current plan is to return to normal as much as possible, until told otherwise by local, state and national health officials. School sports practices are scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 23, and the state has scheduled fall competition all the way through the state playoffs.
Oneonta Central School District is also taking a similar position, requiring masks for all those who are indoors.
Oneonta Superintendent Tom Brindley said masking was something school officials feel is necessary.
“I think it’s in everyone’s best interest that we follow the recommendations of those who make those decisions,” Brindley said. “It is unfortunate. I was hoping we weren’t going to have to go back to wearing masks, but we’re educators, not healthcare professionals.”
Schenevus Central School Superintendent Theresa Carlin said her school hasn’t made a decision regarding masking, but had sent out a survey to the community asking its members’ opinions.
“I’m waiting to see what that survey says. I’ll be waiting for my board and making a decision on that,” Carlin said, who speculated that they probably wouldn’t have a decision on this for a few more weeks.
Worcester Superintendent Tim Gonzales said his school is in “a holding pattern” and waiting for guidance from the Department of Education, which told him it would be sending out an email within the next few days about how it would be proceeding with COVID guidelines.
Gonzales said initially the school was told it wasn’t going to be getting any guidance.
“We are waiting to see what that looks like,” Gonzales said. “The delta variant is a concern. All of us are wondering now whether we’re going to get guidance.”
The schools said it will continue to update it communities as information changes.