PLATTSBURGH — The state's provision of clear guidance helps lessen anxiety about schools reopening this fall, Plattsburgh City School District Superintendent of Schools Jay Lebrun said earlier this week.

But ongoing dissent and contradictions at the federal level do the opposite, he added.

The Trump administration has lately been pushing for a full, in-person reopening of schools, while U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance states the highest risk for COVID-19 in a school setting is associated with "full sized, in-person classes, activities and events" where "students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities."

"When the President's, Secretary of Education's and cabinet members' position is so contradictory to that of the Centers for Disease Control, it raises concern and erodes confidence," Lebrun said.

"School districts will, as always, work tirelessly to deliver on any directive they receive, but planning for such an important, challenging reopening of schools is made so much more difficult when the authorities' positions and guidance are inconstant (and even contradictory).

"I encourage the various federal and state decision-makers to strive for a clear and consistent message about school reopening."

OPTIONS NECESSARY

North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) did not directly answer the question of whether she supported the administration's push for schools to reopen for in-person classes this fall when reached via email through her communications staff.

"It is critical that we work to ensure our students can resume learning this fall and access the supportive services provided by our schools," she said.

"I support the local superintendents' efforts to update plans to safely have in-person classes available to the fullest extent they can be provided safely."

Stefanik noted the challenges of remote learning for thousands of students, particularly those who live in areas that lack reliable broadband access and some with disabilities.

"Offering in-person options is necessary to prevent the widening of achievement gaps," she continued.

"However, I don’t think there is a one-size-fits all answer and local leaders, who understand the circumstances of their communities, should play a large role in determining how and when they will offer in-person instruction.

"Safely reopening schools will necessitate additional funding from Congress which I am strongly advocating for in the next COVID relief package."

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Stefanik supports K-12 funding through existing funding streams along with additional funding in the COVID-19 package.

"As Congress looks to pass additional federal funding on top of the funding schools typically receive, there is discussion around ensuring this funding is used to help schools reopen and provide in-person instruction to the students and families that depend on it," she said.

Stefanik said local leaders need additional flexibility to get students to school safely and make in-person instruction work.

"I have heard from our school districts that additional resources are going to be needed, and so I am working to ensure additional state and local relief is provided to avoid major cuts in the state K-12 budget and more direct funding is provided to schools to support reopening."

Email Cara Chapman:

cchapman@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @PPR_carachapman

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