The state’s new “report card” for tracking how school districts and individual schools are fairing with COVID-19 cases is now up and running on the state Health Department website.
That means parents and other interested people can track the number of positive cases among students and staff at any given school. The goal is to address concerns that the return of in-person schooling in many districts this fall will lead to an increase in COVID cases, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday.
While New York schools ceased in-person education in March because of the pandemic, many Capital Region schools are resuming at least some in-person learning this fall, even as some districts continue to use remote learning. Cuomo acknowledged that the worries of parents about sending their children back to school are “not an unintelligent response.”
The state has dramatically reduced the incidence of COVID since the height of the pandemic in March and April, yet it remains a problem. While the governor acknowledged that the combination of students returning to school and the pending arrival of flu season have increased parental anxiety, he said the report card should help ease fears by providing factual information, so parents can decide if a child should attend.
“You’re going to have the facts. You’ll be able to compare your school to other school districts,” Cuomo said at a briefing in New York City. “If you’re worried about it, we’re going to give you the facts, and then you make a decision.”
As Cuomo made his announcement, the Shenendehowa Central School District in Clifton Park reported two cases among students on its website. It was the second day in a row the district had reported a postive case. The case reported Wednesday involved one student.
The two elementary school students tested positive in cases that are “directly related” to a teacher who has also tested positive, the district said in a message posted Thursday. The cases were contracted through outside activities, not by attending school, according to the district’s message.
The two students attend the Orenda elementary school, while the teacher involved is at Chango school, officials said.
The district is working with the Saratoga County Public Health Department to conduct contact tracing, and promised anyone at risk of direct exposure would be contacted. “Anyone identified as having prolonged, direct exposure will be contacted by the end of the day, Thursday,” the district wrote in its message. “If you do not receive a call, then you have not been identified as having direct, prolong contact with the positive individual.”
Two high school students have also been on quarantine for over a week after testing positive for the virus.
Other school districts have also reported positive cases, and state officials acknowledge many more cases are likely as congregate instruction resumes.
At the press conference, administration official Gareth Rhodes said that of nearly 93,000 COVID tests administered Thursday, 5,000 were for children between ages five and 17, and the testing resulted in 90 positive child cases statewide. “The goal here is to give parents and New Yorkers full transparency,” Rhodes said.
Cuomo also emphasized that even though school districts are organizing the testing, independent laboratories are doing the testing and reporting the results. While reporting delays may mean there are instances when a school district and the report card have different results, Cuomo said results are expected to be accurate.
Staff writer Zachary Matson contributed to this story.