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County Develops Guide and Testing Plan for the Reopening of Local Public Schools

Liberty, NY – Sullivan County Public Health Services has released a draft of a County Contact Tracing and Testing Plan and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide that will assist the County’s school districts in addressing COVID-19 health and safety parameters and contact tracing requirements while preparing to reopen this fall. The Public Health Director and staff participated in calls to go over questions on the draft document and will release it to the districts this week.

The County’s Public Health team has been communicating with school administrators as they prepare for the start of the school year, and this Plan and Q&A guide answers to their specific questions, as well as those of parents throughout the County.

“We are dedicated to working closely with our school districts and parents to ensure a safe and clear communication plan, contact tracing and testing protocols, and that schools have the support and guidance they need as classes resume in September,” stated Public Health Director Nancy McGraw, MPH.

Schools are required to submit their reopening plans to the State, and while the County can provide answers to questions, it does not have the authority to approve plans.

“By providing additional clarification on how Public Health Services will communicate with schools, conduct contact tracing and quarantine activities, and respond to needs for testing, we will ensure we are ready to work in a coordinated fashion,” McGraw said.

“The Sullivan County Public Health Services team has a proven track record of responding quickly to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has resulted in the impact of the pandemic on Sullivan County, as well as last year’s Measles outbreak,” assured District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz, chair of the Legislature’s Health & Family Services Committee. “By continuing to work closely together, we will get through this crisis.”

Schools should use the Guide to help develop their health and safety plans for reopening that are required by the New York State Department of Education. School district governing bodies, with input from their medical directors, must approve health and safety plans and submit the plans, tailored to their unique local needs, to the State before reopening. Having a plan approved is required to reopen schools for in-person instruction.

“The health and safety of our children and community members are our top priorities, and we will continue to provide support to our school districts during these unprecedented times,” confirmed Dr. Bruce Ellsweig, Medical Director for Sullivan County Public Health Services.