Onondaga County Exec. apologizes to educators who took his school reopening criticism ‘too personally’

School Zone

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Onondaga County Executive appeared to take a softer approach Monday in helping school districts reopen to students by offering an apology to those who took critical comments he made Friday “too personally.”

Friday, McMahon trashed some school districts’ reopening plans that only allow students to to come back into classrooms a few days a week, alternating days with learning from home.

McMahon fears expectations for students to stay home will lead to a child care crisis in Onondaga County, as parents will need to find people to watch their children when they go back to work.

McMahon also said people at the highest levels of state government tell him the State Education Department’s six-foot social distancing suggestion is flexible and that four feet is acceptable if students wear masks.

Central Square Superintendent Tom Colabufo, whose district includes 450 students at Brewerton Elementary School in Onondaga County, was careful not to criticize McMahon, agrees that child care will become a crisis, but disagrees that schools should be held resposible.

Colabufo, who will bring back elementary students two days per week rotating with three days of remote learning, says he doesn’t have the space or staffing to bring back everyone five days a week and maintain six feet between desks.

Rich Rogers, a math teacher who now works as the treasurer for the Syracuse Teachers Association, tells NewsChannel 9 he and other teachers were offended by McMahon’s comments.

When asked about his comments on Monday, McMahon said, “If people took things differently or too personally, I apologize for that. In this process, I’ve been transparent about every issue facing the community.”

McMahon stands by his interpretation of the state guidelines and remains concerned about the child care issue.

Hoping to leave Friday’s comments in the past, McMahon says he’s going to instead focus on solutions, like taking inventory of the daycare availability and scoping out county-owned buildings to be used for children who need a place to go when school reopens.

More from NewsChannel 9:

For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Live case map

Live Doppler 9 Map Center

CNY View

CNY View

CNY View

Oswego Area

Oswego Area

Syracuse Area

Syracuse Area