Testing requirements set "high bar" for schools to reopen in Erie County orange zone

Posted at 11:19 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 23:19:50-05

BUFFALO (WKBW) — Schools inside the Orange Warning Zone in Erie County, designated by New York State, must move to a remote-only learning model starting on Monday, November 23rd. Until COVID-19 numbers come down getting kids back into the classroom may now be easier said then done.

The state does allow schools in the Orange Zone to return students to school if they "test out" of the designation but the requirements may be unrealistic for many districts. The guidance requires districts to test 100% of students/staff for COVID-19 before reopening. 25% of students/staff have to test each week thereafter.

7 Eyewitness News Anchor Jeff Russo spoke with Michael Cornell, the President of the Erie Niagara Superintendents Association, about the test out requirements on Wednesday.

"To do 100 percent and then 25 percent every week there after is enourmously difficult", said Cornell. "Many of us don't believe that it is logistically or financially feasible without a substantial amount of federal, state and local support and coordination to make that happen." "That's just not something, a responsibility, and an expense that school districts can assume under these circumstances".

Cornell says he believes districts will reevaluate numbers and zone designations on a week to week basis acknowledging that it will be difficult for kids to return to in person learning until COVID-19 numbers come down.