On February 26, 2021, Gov. Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.96, which repealed the requirement for school districts to report vaccination data for teachers. Since local health departments have this data, they will be required to report to the State. Governor Cuomo stated that the data of vaccinated staff can help with policy on school re-opening plans for in-person learning.
Biden administration has announced that it will require all states to administer tests required by federal law despite the pandemic. However, states will be able to shorten tests, delay them and apply for waivers on accountability designations based on them.
Suffolk School Bus Camera in Effect:
On March 1st, Suffolk County adopted the new school bus camera program to reduce the number of drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses. For the first 60 days, drivers who are caught will get a warning. Fines will start though on May 1st at $250 and will increase with subsequent violations. The company BUSPATROL is based in Virginia and is likely to be the largest of its kind in the nation, with cameras equipped on about 4,500 buses in Suffolk. Almost all Suffolk school districts have joined the program. The company will pay for all program costs and in return will receive 45% of the fee and penalty revenue while the remaining 55% will go to the County. Buses will have bumper stickers warning that cameras will be recording when the red lights are flashing. The camera is said to be able to capture license plate numbers over eight lanes of traffic.
Summer Meal Program:
The USDA extended waivers for some school meal rules through September 30th, allowing schools more flexibility to feed children during the summer as students continue to be impacted by COVID-19. The waiver covers several areas:
- Allow schools and community programs to serve free meals under the summer food program rules in all areas. That program is usually restricted to areas that meet certain poverty thresholds.
- Allow schools to serve meals outside of typical mealtimes and group settings, allowing for “grab and go” options that families can take home during remote learning or when it is not safe to eat in a group setting.
- Allow parents to pick up one or more meals for their children, even if the children are not present.
Notice from NYSED:
This is a reminder to all districts that the 2020-2021 Textbook, Software and Library Materials Aid will be frozen April 30, 2021. Therefore, districts are encouraged to review the 2020-2021 IMA output report on the Web and submit any necessary ST-3 changes as well as Form A Schedule C changes relating to the Textbook, Software & Library Aid calculations to State Aid via 2020-2021 SAMS by April 19, 2021.
New Pandemic Planning Policy
On September 7, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed into law Chapter 168 of the Laws of 2020 that requires public employers, including public school districts, to adopt a continuation of operations plan should the Governor declare a public health emergency involving communicable disease. The legislation (S.8617-B/ A.10832) amends subdivision 2 of section 2801-a of New York Education Law to require that District Safety Plans include protocols for responding to a declared public health emergency involving a communicable disease that are “substantially consistent” with the provisions of section 27-c of the Labor Law. The date these plans are due are April 1, 2021.
Many districts have already created a policy for School Safety Plans and Teams. NYSSBA has created a sample Pandemic Planning policy to meet the requirements of the new laws mentioned above. If your district has not already adopted pandemic planning as a separate policy, you may want to consider including some of the language from the NYSSBA sample policy into your policy for School Safety Plans and Teams.
Thomas is a member of Cerini & Associates’ audit staff where he works with our education and school district clients. He conducts claims audits at various school districts on Long Island.