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Creating safe reopening plans for students and staff

"The devil is in the details with these plans."
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Posted at 5:29 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 08:54:59-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — School districts have a daunting task ahead as they prepare reopening plans.

"Well being an old coach I'll quote Marv Levy - we're going to plan the work and work the plan," explained Joe Cantafio, president, West Seneca Teachers Association.

Both the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and Governor Andrew Cuomo issued recommendations for school reopening.

Cantafio says they will have to examine the capacity of every school building and ever school bus.

"The biggest concern is the fact that we have buildings that don't have the ventilation that the governor is talking about," Cantafio said. "A building that might have a thousand students might only have to have 500-students at a time. How many students can get on a bus at a time? How many bus runs do we have."

But it's all about protecting the safety of students, teachers and staffers.

Governor Cuomo said data will drive the safety in reopening schools.

"We're not going to use our children as the litmus test and we're not going to put our children where their health is endanger," Cuomo remarked.

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Outside Buffalo School 64.

"I think that we have to be creative and thoughtful about how and if we reopen in person, I think there are real needs for some of the most vulnerable students," replied Dr. Rachel Dominguez, co-chair, Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization.

"Wearing face masks, keeping students and teachers at safe distances, hand washing stations and COVID screening will be a must for any reopen plan," Dominguez said.

"And the devil is in the details with these plans," Dominguez stated.

Dominguez says transportation is also a major consideration in busing many of the 33,000 city students.

"The busing, both the public and the yellow busing that occurs within the city of Buffalo,is extremely complicated by that," Dominguez noted.

Both Dominguez and Cantafio say they are pleased the plans call for the mental well being of the students first.

Cantafio said a reopen plan would include distance learning, which unfortunately shows inequities in homes of students.

"But with that, we really have to focus on the education equity. You know not every student has the same computer and not every student has the same access to the internet," Cantafio responded. "Our school district and others are making sure that this fall every student will have access to a computer, but will they have access to internet."

All districts and school must submit their plans to the New York Sate Education Department by July 31.