Can schools safely reopen? Cornell University Health and Safety Director weighs in

Local News

CORNELL, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — New York State schools now have guidance from the state and they’re working on reopening plans, but how realistic is it to get everything ready and reopened safely?

The director of the Health and Safety Program at Cornell University, Nellie Brown, gave NewsChannel 9 some insight on the matter.

“Every region, every district, every school building really has to adapt some,” said Brown. She doesn’t think it’s impossible, but it is going to come at a high cost to districts.

Districts will also have to keep the region’s infection rate in mind while figuring out how to customize each requirement to fit their needs.

“You have to have someone available to do the health checks. Does your school even have a nurse? Can one nurse do all of that,” asked Brown.

Two of the biggest obstacles will be finding ways to socially distance students and figuring out how many kids can be in each classroom and building.

Will students attend every other day so there’s only half in the building at one time and they alternate, one week Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and the other week Tuesday, Thursday? And what would that mean for busses and their academics on the days they’re home? When you think about density it’s not just what do you do in the classroom, it’s what do you do in the restrooms, what do you do in the locker rooms, what do you do in the gymnasium?

Nellie Brown

There are a lot of factors and scenarios to iron out. Districts will have to pay attention to ventilation, figure out bussing, do health checks, social distance, possibly put up plexiglass and disinfect daily.

“It’s all of these things working together and people willing to say I’m doing this, not just for me, but I’m doing it to protect others,” said Brown. Working together to build COVID-19 barriers to keep everyone safe.


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For more local news, follow Nicole Sommavilla on Twitter @NeSommavilla.

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