Ithaca School Superintendent Discusses School Reopening Plans

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TOMPKINS COUNTY, NY (WSKG) – Congress is still negotiating another COVID relief package. That bill contains additional funding for schools and school districts.

The Ithaca City School District can tap into reserve funds to spend on upgrading school buildings. But, Superintendent Luvelle Brown said all school districts are not so lucky.

Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent, Ithaca City School District. March 13, 2020. (Celia Clarke/WSKG)

Brown said that the inequalities of school funding have been exacerbated by the pandemic. He said if Congress fails to provide the funding to make schools safe would be shameful.

He made the remarks Monday on the NPR program On Point.

“If that additional funding does not come through we will be struggling this time next year to provide a great opportunity for our young people,” Brown said. “And across the country we prioritize bars and restaurants over young people. How dare we do that.”

The district has recently made its reopening plans public and held four online question and answer sessions.

The reopening plans allow parents several choices. They can send their children back to school full-time, have some days of at-home online schooling or not send their children back into school buildings at all.

Superintendent Brown said just because schools open is no guarantee they will stay open. If necessary, plans to re-close the school’s will be made with guidance from the county health department.

“We will have protocols in place to keep our young people safe,” he said. “My children go to my schools. If it’s not going to be safe then we won’t have us there. We will go back to a completely digital, virtual environment and approach to this.”

Since July 4 Tompkins County, where Ithaca is located, has seen a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. The county health department has said the increased has been because people attended gatherings where people did not use masks or practice safe distancing, travel to places seeing significant spikes in cases and failure to quarantine after travel.