Parents fed up with school quarantines calling for recently announced policies to be implemented in their district

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– When retired Syracuse teacher Marie Russo-Dempsey returned from Florida about a month ago, she was shocked at the situation inside New York schools.

“All of a sudden my daughter was getting these emails, and they’re telling her, well, your daughter was exposed, so she has to go home for 14 days. And I’m like, wait a minute, I just came up from Florida – in Florida they get to stay in school and that’s because they test, test, test.” Russo-Dempsey said.

Having to quarantine due to possible COVID-19 exposure is something her three North Syracuse Central School District grandkids are quite accustomed to by now.

Russo-Dempsey’s daughter, Rachel Allen is also frustrated with the lack of testing and says the quarantines have been inconsistent for her 13-year-old daughter. 

“There’s no consistency whatsoever, parents are like ‘hey should we quarantine them on our own?’ or ‘should we let it go?’”

Rachel allen, parent of nscsd student

Those frustrations cut across school districts too. In the Syracuse City School District, Sandra Bernadin, mother of two, said between the miscommunication on when her kids should quarantine and the lack of testing, she’d rather keep them at home.

“My kindergartener — his whole class was in quarantine, the whole entire class, and we didn’t find out about it until the second week and this time the health department didn’t notify me. It was the school with a written, handwritten letter with the wrong dates,” Bernadin said. 

The solution? These parents believe it’s bringing more tests into schools.

“I think the only way to truly put a nip in this is to test at the door before you go in.”

sandra berdadin, parent of scsd student

Allen agrees, adding that her daughter wants to be in school but wants to feel secure that she’s not carrying the virus. 

But for now, they’re afraid their children’s education is suffering the most. 

The Onondaga County school districts met Tuesday with County Health Commissioner Dr. Gupta to learn more about the new ‘test to stay’ and ‘test out of quarantine’ options now available to schools. According to East Syracuse Minoa Superintendent, Dr. Donna DeSiato the first step in implementing these policies is to apply for a limited services laboratory approval. This step will likely take three to four weeks. The final decision on whether a school will adopt these policies is up to each individual district. 

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