Teachers union concerned with Buffalo Schools’ reopening plan

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore says he was left with more questions than answers after looking at the Buffalo Public School District’s draft reopening plan.

“On Friday we were presented with a document which they called a reopening plan. It is a plan for nothing which contains no definitive actions which have to be taken,” Rumore said.

Schools must submit their reopening plans to the state by the end of this month. Rumore says he’s concerned two weeks isn’t enough time for the district to get everything in order.

“How do you make sure there’s social distancing on the school bus? How do you have class sizes when we haven’t got enough room for all of the kids? What do you do if a child comes in with the virus, what do you do then? There’s absolutely no detail and there are only two weeks left.”

But officials with BPS say the draft was just the start and they’ll be able to add more details once they have a clear decision from the state on what will happen this fall. District leaders plan to meet again this week to hammer out more details ahead of the July 31st deadline. But school officials say it doesn’t just end there.

“Once the governor makes his decision during the first week in August, we will take our plan, refine it even more with even greater specificity so we are drilling down to the nitty-gritty for each of our buildings,” said Dr.Darren Brown Hall, Buffalo Public Schools Chief of Staff.

Rumore says if the teachers don’t agree on the district’s plan, they could be heading to the courtroom instead of the classroom.

“If this is not a plan we feel is safe for all, we will file a grievance and then go to court to try to get adjunctive relief to prevent that plan from going forward.If they ultimately do come up with a plan, the teachers will vote on it and if we think it’s dangerous and not good – doesn’t make educational sense – we’ll have to do what we have to do.”

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

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