The New York State Department of Education is offering some advice for schools to reopen this fall as the COVID-19 pandemic takes a turn with the more contagious Delta variant, but is leaving the final say up to the schools.

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Education officials issued statement August 12 deferring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations as the New York State Health Department this week said it would not be issuing guidelines.

The CDC recommends universal masking for students and staff regardless of vaccination status as well as social distancing of three feet who have been vaccinated and six feet for those who are not or whose status is unknown.

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Masking on school buses is a mandate as is the case with public transportation.

The Education Department also recommended districts that are set to begin in-person learning in the fall be prepared to pivot at a moment's notice to go to remote learning if pandemic conditions should warrant.

Again, the guidelines are recommendations and it will be up to schools and parents to make a final decision.

Schools in New York are being left without clear leadership on the issues involving the pandemic after the state Health Department last year issued directives on a regular basis as conditions changed even though, many times, the districts complained those directives were very slow in coming.  Those slow instructions last year threw a lot of sports and other programs into confusion as guidance was issued with little time for districts to make necessary adjustments.

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