By Jennifer McLogan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some teachers across New York are questioning the state’s “return to the classroom” COVID policies.

This comes as sick-outs are mounting and more students are staying home.

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“Everybody has a different message for us, so how are do we know what to do?” one parent said.

Parents, students and teachers are trying to cope with the COVID surge and do what’s best for learning.

“I lreally ove being in the building, and I can pay attention so much better,” high school senior Jessica Knaster said.

But Knaster is aware that some of her high school friends come from places with high-risk family members.


Thousands of students are staying home.

“Parents being concerned if I should send my child to school, will they come back home infected and then infect the entire household,” Hempstead Schools Superintendent Regina Armstrong said.

Schools are safe, say superintendents across the state, where masking and social distancing are mandatory.

“It’s been very stressful,” said Principal James Murray, of Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School.

READ MORE: Mask-Less Children Join Parents At Rally On Long Island Protesting State Mask Mandate

Yet Murray says his community has been marvelously supportive.

“We have 17 teachers that are out absent today, and I have nine substitutes, so I am very fortunate to have a faculty that steps up to the plate,” he said.

Some teachers’ unions in New York City and Long Island are pushing back with protocols suggesting a five-day return.

For fully vaccinated teachers in the state who test positive, symptoms that would allow them back in the classroom must be “mild or improving.” Teachers will not need a negative test to return to school.

“We started getting phone calls and emails. There was a lot of confusion. I just sent a mass email to my members [saying], unless their doctor tells they are cleared to go back to work after five, I would use the ten days,” said Tony Felicio, president of the Connetquot Teachers Association.


“It’s not a simple answer. Certainly, if you test negative after five days, it’s safe for you to go out with a mask over the next five days,” CBS Mornings medical contributor Dr. David Agus said.

“It’s very taxing to the teachers that are not sick because so many of their colleagues are,” one man said.

“Right now, I think the most important thing is to get these kids in school,” another man said.

“If the kids are wearing masks, I don’t see the issue,” another pesron said.

MORE NEWS: New York City Schools Announce New COVID Isolation Rules Starting Next Week

And more bumps in the road? Bus companies are already notifying districts they may not be able to make all their routes next week.

Jennifer McLogan