Onondaga County Health Dept. releases its school guidance

Back to School

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — One day after the New York State Education Department released its 2021-2022 reopening guidance to schools reopening this fall, the Onondaga County Health Department has followed suit.

When it comes to masks, OCHD recommends everyone wears them indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

One major recommendation the health department talks about is universal masking indoors and on school buses for all students, staff, teachers and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. masks are not recommended outdoors, and this includes during recess and gym classes.

Indoor: Because of the highly transmissible nature of predominantly circulating Delta variant, along with the extent of mixing of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in schools, the fact that children <12 years of age are not currently eligible for vaccination, and level of vaccination among youth ages 12‐17, and current level of high community transmission, based on CDC ‘s guidance, OCHD strongly recommends universal indoor masking for all students (age 2 years and older), teachers, staff, and visitors to K‐12 schools regardless of vaccination status.11 Additionally, masks should be appropriate and properly worn

Outdoors: In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors. OCHD recommends that people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings. Fully vaccinated people might choose to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings if they or someone in their household are immunocompromised.                                                                                                                                     

During bus transportation: Passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses, including on buses operated by public and private school systems, regardless of vaccination status.

Students should maintain at least 3-feet of physical distance in classrooms to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but social distancing is not required on school buses. 

Other standard prevention strategies are monitoring symptoms and temperature checks, testing, and contact tracing. The Onondaga County health department says COVID testing is going to be based on the level of community transmission and number of cases in the school building. 

Most of Onondaga County’s guidance is in line with the CDC’s back to school recommendations, but one big difference applies to sports.

The CDC and the state education department are both recommending schools located in high community transmission zones — like Onondaga County — should think about cancelling or going virtual with high-risk sports.

However, based on the county’s reopening plan, the health department is still encouraging schools to go ahead with sports, just with strict safety measures in place.

For a complete look at the county’s recommendations, you can read the PDF below.

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