Counties across the state refuse to accept any blame for spikes in COVID-19 in schools when there has been inconsistent testing protocols or guidance coming from the state.

Schools were required to submit reopening plans to the New York State Health Department and the State Education Department. These plans were not submitted to counties and local governments. To suggest that localities begin testing students without state leadership, guidance or support is disingenuous.

It is the State of New York that has declared this public health emergency. They are in a position to provide clear and coordinated testing protocols. In addition, the state has received more than $5 billion in CARES Act funding. Unlike in most states, none of this has been allocated to New York’s counties, which have been charged with leading the local response to this pandemic. It is beyond the capacity of local governments to administer tests on behalf of schools.

There needs to be more coordinated state testing guidance provided to our schools and local governments, and there needs to be funding allocated to those local governments so that they can effectively implement any such coordinated plan.

The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving all the counties of New York State, including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate, serve and advocate for member counties and the elected and appointed county officials who serve the public. For more information, visit www.nysac.org