ERIE COUNTY (WKBW) — The Erie County Department of Health announced Thursday it will adopt New York State Department of Health school guidance beginning Monday, September 27.
According to ECDOH, the decision was made after receiving feedback from school leaders and to "bring consistency between school districts in Western New York, including some districts in Erie County that cross county lines."
ECDOH announced its school guidance on August 23, but will adopt the NYSDOH guidance beginning Monday. Regulations for mask wearing and testing of staff who do not provide COVID-19 vaccination status remain unchanged.
“The COVID-19 school guidance that our department issued remains a strong document with practical, common sense recommendations for schools to maintain safe and healthy operations,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “We hope that as school leaders look to NYSDOH guidance as a baseline, they maintain measures in our guidance document, especially since children’s health is at stake.”
ECDOH says it will continue to serve schools in the following ways:
- Coordinating COVID-19 screening testing.
- Beginning in early October, coordinating COVID-19 proximate testing program where students and staff in the same class or extracurricular as a case while contagious are tested.
- Providing PPE distribution to schools.
- Purchasing COVID-19 antigen tests for schools to test unvaccinated school staff.
- Sending sanitarians into schools to confirm compliance with NYSDOH requirements.
- Reviewing reports it receives regarding any failure to follow state guidance and other appropriate safety standards.
ECDOH says COVID-19 cases among Erie County k-12 students and school staff are higher than the same time last year.
“Our limited data since the school year’s start show that COVID-19 cases among youth and adolescents are driving our overall increase in countywide cases,” said Burstein. “We fully expect to see more COVID-19 cases among students and school staff, and continued clusters of cases within classrooms, buses and sports teams. When those cases and outbreaks happen, we will direct our resources into appropriate contact tracing with support from schools and based on NYSDOH guidance."