WNY School districts prepare for what health guidelines are likely to come out this school year

Education

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — School districts across Western New York are preparing to welcome students back in about a month. However, there are still questions about what health guidelines will be in effect.

School districts know that this time when school starts students will be back to learning inside the classroom five days a week.

“Any sort of hybrid learning or that kind of stuff, to me, seems extremely unlikely,” said Hamburg Central School District Superintendent Michael Cornell. “I doubt very much that New York state will require anything other than 5 days a week in-person learning for all students in September.”

One question still lingers, will face masks be mandatory?

Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark Laurrie is hoping the state allows face coverings to be an option rather than a requirement.

“We’re getting much better with commitment to safety when you give options and I think that’s the position we should be in,” Laurrie said.

He prefers the decision to be left up to individual districts and not on a state level.

“It’s time for a local decision, there are nuances in every community that are very different,” he said. “There are 700 school districts in the state of New York and they all have different sizes, space allowances. It really should be left to local Boards of Education.”

As of right now, the CDC recommends indoor masking for all teachers, staff and students regardless if they’re vaccinated.

“Now in the event that there is an outbreak of the infection we can pivot backward and become more restrictive with masks and distancing,” Laurrie said. “If that were to occur, we know how to do it.”

The latest state guidelines also recommend schools maintain at least three feet of physical distance between students inside the classrooms.

“I don’t plan on getting out yardsticks and measuring nose to nose, I think we’re beyond that time,” Laurrie said. “I think when you get within 3 feet it really starts to get inside someone’s personal space anyways so I think using good common sense should prevail always”

The New York State Department of Education announced this week, they are working on new guidance for the upcoming school year.

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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