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Eye on Education: first look at Buffalo Schools drafted reopening plans

Three models being submitted to State
Posted at 2:10 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 08:39:00-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Buffalo Public School District is working on plans to reopen in the fall in line with guidance from the State and the CDC, but Buffalo teachers — and parents — say they’ve been left in the dark.

The District has not publicly released ideas for how it will reopen, but 7 Eyewitness News received a document labeled “confidential” of a draft of reopening plans sent to members of BPS’s Reopening Committee Sunday afternoon.

That committee met again yesterday, Monday, July 20.

The plan labeled “confidential” describes three potential models for reopening: completely virtual, four “hybrid models”, and completely in-person.

The Models

A. Completely Virtual Model

This model would be a continuation of what was happening at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

A note on the draft said if the Governor’s office determines schools will remain completely virtual — a “more structured school day” will be created from home. No details were provided on the additional structure.

This draft addresses plans for the district technology department to ensure all students have the proper devices at home for instruction but does not detail how the District will accomplish this or ensure internet access for all students.

B. Hybrid Models (4)

Model #1: Students K-8 will be in school, High school students will be virtual.

The elementary/middle school students will be in a cohort model keeping the same group of children together for the entire day.

This model asks for limited mixing between groups — if possible.

Some ideas to make this possible are to have teachers rotate classrooms or use outdoor spaces for classes.

Model #2: Alternating weeks of schooling with “Week A/Week B”.

In this drafted model, students across the district will be assigned groups for instruction (A,B) and attend school on their groups designated week.

This model is intended to help with transportation and class sizes.

Elementary school students would continue to use cohorts (from model #1) and high school students would switch classes less frequently by moving to block scheduling.

Block scheduling would make classes that might typically be 45-minutes per day, a 90-minute “block” for core classes.

Model #3: Alternating days of schooling (A day, B day) to help with classroom size reduction and transportation.

Students will do classwork from home on their “off” days.

This draft would allow students to pick up lunches and breakfasts for their “off” day during their “on” day at school.

Model #4: a combination of models 1 & 2: elementary students would be in-school in the cohort model, high school students would follow the alternate week scheduling model.

C. Completely In-Person

The district has not drafted any plans for an in-person schooling model. Notes say this will be fully developed in upcoming reopening committee planning meetings.

Additional plans

The table of contents for the drafted plan also lists items related to the school day that include a designated COVID-19 point of contact, face coverings, hand and hygiene respiratory etiquette, shared objects, modified layouts, physical barriers and guides, food service, and instruction for isolating and transporting the sick.

Buffalo Teachers Federation Responds

Buffalo Teacher Federation President Phillip Rumore has seen the full draft and said the drafted plan put forth by the district is not a plan at all.

He said his principal concern is there is no delineation of responsibility for any of the outlined tasks.

He said in an interview with 7 Eyewitness News that the representatives from the BTF that were put on the reopening committee were not consulted and he said the “meetings” they attended as part of this committee lasted “for about one hour each” on two occasions.

District Response

A spokesperson for the school district said in a phone call these are just drafts and the actual plan will not be submitted to the state until July 31.
District Chief of Staff Darren Brown-Hall said the plans will be published on the District's website at that point.

He wanted to make clear the document obtained by 7ABC was merely a guide, or a "preliminary look" at some ideas that will be further discussed with all members of the committee, including teachers in the next 10 days before a final, public draft will be submitted.

Brown-Hall said BPS is taking into account the concerns raised by teachers and this will be a part of ironing out a stronger, more structured plan.

Another follow-up meeting is set for Thursday of this week with the elementary and high school chairpersons to “further the planning, and review additional sections of the draft plan”.