WNY schools review new NYS guidance, look ahead to bringing students back to the classroom

Education

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — We’ve been telling you about new New York State guidelines that change the social distancing rules inside classrooms.

Now, as kids come off of spring break, we’re looking at how soon we’ll be seeing kids in classrooms.

The superintendents News 4 has spoken with Sunday say, it’s is a step in the right direction, but your kid won’t be in school for in-person learning, for at least a couple of weeks.

The state has reduced the school distancing guidelines from six feet to three feet, this decision follows the new CDC recommendations for school distancing.

But, there’s a catch — it all depends on the COVID-19 community transmission rates in a county.

The state says, for counties with low to moderate transmission rates, three feet distancing is allowed for all grade levels.

For counties with high COVID-19 transmission rates, the elementary schools can continue three feet distancing. However, the middle schoolers and high schoolers can only keep three feet if they’re using cohorts.

If the school is not using cohorts, then middle schoolers and high schoolers are back to six feet distancing.

Superintendent of the Niagara City Schools District Mark Laurrie said, “Right now, it seems as if the plan really affects and impacts elementary school. If you look at the infection rate, as it stands today, it’s still high according to the guidelines for grades 7 to 12. So this is just an opening for elementary schools as we read it, and we’ll move forward with those schools and we’ll start planning for more in the future.”

Other changes include the state no longer recommending physical barriers, like plexiglass, when physical distancing can not be maintained. Instead, districts should enhance their air systems and ventilation.

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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