Westchester County is establishing a working group that will help dictate what schools will look like in the fall when they reopen amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
County Executive George Latimer said that the working group will been designed to “further provide information and support around the areas of public health, emergency preparedness and response.”
Latimer said the goal of the task force is to create a more efficient way to provide feedback for common issues that may arise as schools reopen in September.
Among the issues being discussed is the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment, how to best install Plexiglas dividers, and signage. Contact tracing is being put in place and the working group is developing a standardized frequently asked questions document.
“No one knows what we will be up against when our school districts start to reopen again,” Latimer stated. “If we do see plans for a return in September, administrators will have a limited amount of time to make crucial decisions about how to provide a quality education for our students, while maintaining their health and safety, which will always be our top priority.
“It is my hope that this working group will make the transition process smoother, and provide an easy venue for districts to reach out to us for the support they may need.”
The working group is being headed by Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health Joseph Glazer. Joining Glazer will be White Plains School Superintendent Joe Ricca, Susan Spear and Aviva Meyer of the County Executive’s Office, Dr. Dial Hewlett, Peter DeLucia and Marina Yoegel of the Health Department, and Hernane DeAlmeida from the Department of Public Works.
It will take the following initial steps:
- Create a survey for school districts, to be collected by the Superintendents, to identify the quantity and type of PPE gear required for a safe reopening;
- Host webinars centered around specific aspects of returning to school: proper school cleaning, food provisions for kitchen staff, protocols for contact tracing, and attaining PPE gear;
- Designate points of contact at the Westchester County Department of Health to assist with health care concerns as they arise.
“As we look to the future, with a hopeful eye to welcoming our children and staff members back into our classrooms, we know that this partnership will remain critical in providing for the health and safety of our communities,” Ricca said.
“It remains an honor to work alongside so many committed professionals in support of our children. Together, we will move through these challenges successfully and we will be stronger for the shared effort.”
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