More schools in yellow zone switching to all remote learning

Posted at 5:48 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 18:37:04-05

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) — More school districts in Erie County’s yellow zone are switching to all remote learning.

Orchard Park, East Aurora and Iroquois school districts announcing the change.

The high number of COVID cases in the community, rising cases in schools and new school testing requirements all causing challenges for schools.

Last week, St. Amelia’s School in the Town of Tonawanda announced it would switch to all remote learning this week after two new COVID cases were reported, bringing the total at the school nine.

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St. Amelia School student now home remote learning.

“She can't leave the house. We can't have any visitors,” said Suzi Pekarski, parent, St. Amelia.

Suzi Pekarski, parent, St. Amelia, in a Zoom interview.

Pekarsi says first grader daughter needs to quarantine because of possible exposure. But now both her daughter and son began remote learning this week as the school closed in-school learning.

“I’m very appreciative for the little bit of normalcy that they had for those few months, but I don't really see how it could have kept going just because of the numbers in the county itself,” remarked Pekarski. .

St. Amelia principal Kapperman says rising community cases and new testing requirements for schools in the yellow zone are a big challenge.

St. Amelia principal Kapperman.

“The quarantine requirements made it very difficult to continue instruction,” responded Scott Kapperman, principal

But event as students are back at home learning, the school is preparing a testing plan.

“Once we get that established, as long as our numbers are where they are able to allow us to come back into the building — we're hoping to do that,” explained Kapperman.

St. Amelia classroom.

School districts in Erie County's yellow zone are required to randomly test up to 20-percent of students and staff.

But once again, Monday Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz stated the county can't help with school testing.

“But the department of health does not have the staff to be able to test all those students and staff and moreover, if we focus solely on schools, we would have to stop everything else that we are doing and we can't do that,” Poloncarz stated.

In Elma, Iroquois School Superintendent Douglas Scofield also faced with the challenge decided to go to all remote learning for his students.

“We’d be looking right now with the way the yellow zone are set up at 500 individuals a week approximately,” Scofield said. “Really there are more than just one thing that are coming into play here.”

St. Amelia's principal is hoping that students will be back in these hallways by the end of the month, but that all depends on the COVID cases in Erie County and if the yellow zone would move to orange or red.