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Lawmakers, school leaders say social distancing guidelines must be changed for return to in-person learning

Sen. Pam Helming is joining other lawmakers in New York calling for the resumption of full-time, in-person learning at schools across the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said that he wants to see schools reopen as soon as possible. However, there has been ongoing debate between teacher union officials and state leaders on how to make it happen.

Superintendents say that state guidance would have to be relaxed in order to return to full-time learning, at an in-person level.

Superintendent Tim Terranova from the Victor Central School District said over the weekend that his district had the fewest number of active cases since mid-October. “We need criteria from the state health department regarding how to safely reduce social distancing requirements in schools,” he wrote.

Superintendent Jamie Farr from Canandaigua shared that sentiment. “As of this week our active cases and quarantines in Canandaigua are lower than they were since the end of September,” he wrote. “The reopening guidelines created by NYSDOH last July need to be revised. The 6-foot rule unfairly penalizes larger districts.”

Superintendent Christopher Brown from Marcus Whitman said that his district would join in any effort to get more students in school. “I would certainly join in on any effort to get more students to school five days per week by reducing the social distancing requirement,” he added.

At this point it’s unclear when guidelines might be changed at the state level. However, the CDC has said that vaccinations are not a necessity to get back to in-person learning.