The Ithaca City School District has announced its proposed reactivation plans for the fall, ahead of the July 31st deadline to submit reopening plans to New York state.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered that schools can only reopen if their region is in Phase 4 of the state’s economic reopening stages, and is under a five percent infection rate by August 1. Cuomo also says that if a region surpasses a nine percent infection rate over a seven-day period, schools will be forced to close immediately.

ICSD students and staff will have two options to choose from for the upcoming school year: they may do in-person teaching and learning, which would consider space capabilities while sticking to the 6-foot social distance mandates; staffing capabilities; and limited transportation to and from schools. ICSD community members can also choose a distance teaching and learning option. Those who are high-risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms, who live with a person at high risk for severe illness, or who may not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational space, may choose the completely online option.

According to the ICSD website, based off planning sessions it was determined that quote, “in-person instruction is best for the healthy development of our young people, and we also believe in the importance of offering our families and teachers voice and choice.” Unquote.

Several additional planning information sessions with ICSD Superintendent Luvelle Brown and other educators will be held soon, the next on Sunday July 26 at 2 pm, and the final session on Tuesday July 28 at 8 a.m. To register, visit ithacacityschools.org/reopen.

New York State will make a decision on whether and how schools will reopen this fall by August 7th, according to Tompkins Weekly.

The State’s education department has issued a document outlining the reopening guidelines for school districts. There are three options for reopening: complete online instruction, a hybrid plan of in-person and online, and a complete reopening of in-person classes within guidelines.

There are concerns about the increased amount of cleaning and precautions that would be necessary with reopening K-12 schools. There would also be costs for the purchasing and storing of cleaning equipment. Schools will also have to be sure they are accommodating student’s basic needs, such as having enough food.

New York State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton has penned a letter to the Cornell administration seeking answers to several questions about Cornell University’s reopening plans. This comes after her efforts to field questions over the last several weeks from constituents surrounding the school’s reactivation plans.

Lifton’s letter is also addressed to Tompkins County Legislature Chair Leslyn McBean-Clairborne and Tompkins County Health Director Frank Kruppa, the Ithaca Times reports. The questions surround rationale for the decision to re-open for in-person instruction this fall, details about testing and tracing, how Cornell will enforce the reopening plan,and  plans for possible quarantines and how the state will approve the plan.

The Assemblywoman also sent a letter to New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker, asking him to assure that the questions will be answered before Cornell’s plans are approved. Lifton’s letter to Zucker emphasizes whether students returning to campus could potentially bring active infections that would eventually overwhelm the local hospital system.

A link to the list of questions that Lifton has sent to Cornell University and local officials can be found here.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with about 70% of the Ithaca community made up of renters, many local residents may be facing rent payment issues or eviction.  The Ithaca Voice reports that the Tompkins County Human Services Coalition seeks renters who are willing to fill out a survey to provide data that will allow the agency to plan for the future. The survey can be filled out anonymously -- and that answers will provide essential information about area housing security and financial needs.

So far, committees within the county and city government can only make an educated

guess at the financial needs of local renters.  The survey will provide a look at a renter’s expressed ability to pay rent and other bills.  The data from the survey will be used to inform community discussions and will be shared with elected officials and decision makers.

The Housing Initiatives section at the Human Services Coalition hopes that renters will fill out the survey in order to provide data that will help city officials plan the 2021 budget.

A link to the survey can be found here.

There are 5 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tompkins County as of Thursday, and the remaining 2 people hospitalized with the virus have been discharged from the hospital. There are now 39 active cases in Tompkins.

In Schuyler County, there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported as of Friday, according to their Health Department. There are 4 active cases, and 17 recoveries in the area.