Ulster County Department of Health Releases Guidance for Safe School Re-Opening

KINGSTON, N.Y. – County Executive Pat Ryan announced that the Ulster County Department of Health has released guidelines for the safe reopening of schools during the upcoming school year. In a series of guidelines from Ulster County Health Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith, Ulster County is recommending the return to five-days-a-week, full-time in-person learning and that all individuals (faculty, staff, students, and contractors) should be required to wear masks at all times inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status. Additionally, Ulster County has recommended a series of safety precautions, from proper ventilation within school facilities to continued use of health screening for any individual entering the buildings. 

“It is absolutely critical that we fully ‒ and safely ‒ reopen our schools this fall. Given the increased public health risk from the COVID-19 Delta variant, these guidelines are essential to ensure a safe educational experience for students, faculty, and staff,” County Executive Pat Ryan said. “Our Department of Health will continue to work closely with all Ulster County school districts to provide them the support needed to ensure a safe school environment, and we will continue to monitor the changing public health situation to ensure our entire community remains healthy and safe.” 

On July 2, 2021, the active case count was 14 cases; however, due to the Delta variant, cases have steadily climbed. As of today, the active cases in Ulster County have risen to 317. Out of 108,267 Ulster County residents who are fully vaccinated, 228 have contracted COVID-19 as of August 9, 2021. This equates to a .002 infection rate. Due to the small possibility that vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus, the CDC recommends that everyone, including those who are vaccinated, wear masks indoors in areas of high transmission. Ulster County remains an area of high transmission. 

The 2020-2021 school year included a combination of remote and in-person learning for all Ulster County school districts, with most districts returning to full-time in-person learning between spring break and commencement. On June 24, 2021, Governor Cuomo announced that New York’s COVID-19 State Disaster Emergency had ended. On August 5, 2021 New York State Health Commissioner announced that the New York State Department of Health would not be providing guidance to school districts related to reopening schools.

To date, 76.5% of Ulster County residents over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is not anticipated that a vaccine will be approved for children under twelve until late fall or early winter. For information on how you can get a vaccine, visit VaccinateUlster.com.