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Monroe County school superintendents push to keep schools open full-time

Rush-Henrietta School Supt. Bo Wright, in a virtual media briefing on December 29, 2021.
Rush-Henrietta Central School District/Zoom
Rush-Henrietta Central School District Superintendent Bo Wright speaks duringn a virtual media briefing on Dec. 29, 2021.

A local school official said that many schools around Monroe County are working to make sure that they can get students back in school after the winter break, and keep them there, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bo Wright is the president of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents and the superintendent of the Rush-Henrietta Central School District.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Wright noted that anecdotally at least, he has not heard of a big surge in COVID cases among students just before the holiday break.

Wright attributes that to good safety protocols, and he said that in a conference call with school superintendents this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a plan for distributing millions of rapid COVID-19 test kits to schools around the state.

“We’re fully committed to remaining open for in-person instruction. I know that families are worried about going back to remote learning, and I think for all of us, that’s going to be a last resort,” said Wright. “We’re prepared to do it, we have the infrastructure in place now.”

Wright also said that the school districts are trying to get clarification from the state on recent changes in protocol for workers in critical jobs and how they can return to work sooner than before, after they test positive for COVID, as long as they are don’t have symptoms.

Wright said those changes in protocol could help school districts deal with staffing shortages.

During a briefing from Plattsburgh on Wednesday, Hochul continued to advocate for the “test-to-stay” program, where schools are supplied with rapid tests that children can take home.

"Put them in the backpack if someone tests positive in their class, let the parents test them the next morning and send them back if it's negative, test them again,” Hochul said. “In a few days, we'll make sure everyone has those protocols.”

Hochul’s “winter surge plan” includes ordering 37 million of those home testing kits and opening more pop-up testing sites statewide.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.