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Sullivan County and School Districts Prepare for Safe Fall Reopening

Monticello, NY – With NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo having given the green light, Sullivan County’s school districts are preparing to reopen, and Sullivan County Public Health Services has been providing guidance and input for the past few months through remote meetings, calls and email communication with superintendents and school officials.

“My staff, who have been on the front lines of coronavirus response since March, are working closely with Sullivan County BOCES and our public schools to ensure a safe and coordinated reopening,” affirmed Public Health Director Nancy McGraw. “We’ve developed communication, assessment and contact tracing protocols; discussed screening and testing resources; and provided information about the latest information and resources locally, Statewide and Federally.”

Public Health has been particularly aided in this effort by BOCES, including a conference call BOCES coordinated with local school superintendents.

“BOCES and its component districts have spent many weeks planning for this important reopening,” stated BOCES District Superintendent Robert Dufour, “and our work will not end with the start of the school year. We will continue to partner with the County and State to give our children as safe and complete an education as the circumstances allow.”

All 8 districts based in the County – Eldred, Fallsburg, Liberty, Livingston Manor, Monticello, Roscoe, Sullivan West and Tri-Valley – are working on plans to open for the new school year, some in September, others in October, and Public Health Services will assist as needed. (Four districts that serve Sullivan County but are based in neighboring areas – Ellenville, Minisink Valley, Pine Bush and Port Jervis – are under the jurisdiction of their respective health departments, with whom Sullivan County will coordinate.)

“We have a team of nurses and public health experts who have worked hard to keep our COVID-19 numbers low, and we will make every effort to ensure a coordinated response for any suspect case should it occur. As schools prepare to reopen we are stressing the importance of preventive and protective measures that work to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus, which is hand-washing, mask wearing and social distancing. We know that it works,” McGraw noted.

“Sullivan County will stand behind its hardworking teachers, students, faculty and staff,” she added. “We believe there will inevitably be bumps and concerns along the way as children and staff get used to social distancing and wearing masks in the school setting, but we are confident that we have set up a protocol and communication plan that will ensure an immediate and timely response to any concerns.”