The following is a copy of the letter that Assemblyman Colin Schmitt sent to the New York State commissioners of Health and Education on Feb. 24:
State Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker
State Commissioner of Education Betty Rosa
Dear Commissioners: I am deeply concerned with the current state restrictions that are preventing New York students from going back to 5 days a week in-person learning.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently issued updated guidance that clearly shows that schools have the ability to fully reopen safely.
The Director of the CDC Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH stated when releasing the new guidance, “What we are finding from the science-based literature is that there is more spread that is happening in the community when schools are not open than when schools are open.”
Given these new guidelines from the CDC, New York State must modify its current COVID-19 school guidelines which are placing undue burden on New York schools and preventing them from re-opening fully in person.
The guidelines which are most problematic at this time include: six feet distancing New York State requires in the classroom and school bus seating spacing.
These two requirements are unrealistic for most schools to meet and are not necessary. These guidelines are the ones I hear about most from schools that are delaying a full in-person return.
It is also clear in the CDC guidance and other outside studies that it is not necessary, especially when bundled with proper mask wearing.
Our students deserve the opportunity to continue their education in-person.
The health of our students and school staff remain paramount.
The CDC has laid out guidelines that will allow for all students to get back into the classroom, five days a week moving forward.
I urge you to update your guidance for schools with manageable requirements so that all students can get back to school for full-week coursework.
I stand ready to support in all ways possible.
Colin J. Schmitt
Member of Assembly, 99th District