Buffalo Public Schools welcome back several thousand students

Posted at 2:58 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 14:58:54-05

“I feel nervous.”

There were some first day jitters from John Medina on Monday morning. His 4-year-old daughter, Sophia attended her first day of in person instruction at Buffalo Public School Number 30.

“That’s my baby," Medina said.

Medina’s one of several thousand students participating in in-person instruction. It’s the first time the district held in-person instruction in 341 days. For now, the district is only welcoming pre-kindergarten through second grade, seniors, and certain high needs students.

Buffalo Public School Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash couldn’t say when other students would be invited back for in-person instruction. He said they intend to monitor this first phase before deciding if and when other grades will be offered in-person instruction once again.

“This is essentially an engineering challenge to bring back all of our children and staff back on the very, very different footprint of over 60 schools across this district," he explained.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation has serious concerns over building safety and the districts ability to protect teachers from COVID-19. On Friday, it filed a restraining orderagainst the school district. The goal was to prevent the district from re-opening. Monday, a judge denied that request but did schedule a hearing later this week so both sides could make their case.

Cash believes the restraining order hurt attendance on day one. Of the 7,000 students invited back, he estimated only 2-3,000 returned for in-person instruction.

“Because of all the fear mongering going on, parents listen to that, and so they backed back. Health is always our first priority. It’s the first priority of any leader in any society. We take that very seriously. We mean it,” he said.

The district’s legal counsel will now have to prove it. The hearing is scheduled for Friday.