WNY school districts await further guidance from county health officials as the school year approaches


(WIVB) — As students prepare for the first day of school, they’re also preparing for another year of health and safety guidelines, which could involve mandatory face masks.

The Buffalo Public School District is requiring students to wear masks when school starts in a few weeks. Other districts are still waiting to hear what county health officials are recommending. While districts wait, they’re asking for the community’s patience.

The State Department of Education released its guide for school districts this week.

Eden Central School Superintendent Jeff Sortisio calls the state’s optional guidance, a common-sense approach to safely starting the school year.

“I’m appreciative that they did put forth some level of guidance rather than to leave it solely to districts and counties to make decisions on their own,” he said.

The state is recommending, those who are eligible should get vaccinated, wearing face masks, and physical distancing. These are all recommendations, nothing is required.

Soon to be state governor, Kathy Hochul, says she’s in favor of masks in the classroom but plans to work with superintendents throughout the state as they prepare to welcome students back.

“I think it’ll be really refreshing for superintendents to have a voice with state-level government on the factors that are in play in order to safely return students to school, I’m excited for that and I think it will ultimately benefit children and families,” Sortisio said.

As of right now, the Eden Central School District is not mandating face masks.

In the Lewiston-Porter School District in Niagara County, masks will be required when students aren’t at their desks.

“On buses, and in common areas, transition, hallways, the students would be masked completely,” said school superintendent Paul Casseri. “We’re just trying to work as best as we can, with the local health department and follow some of that guidance that’s out there.”

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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