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Western New York schools face many challenges when it comes to reopening

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 17:55:48-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Schools could be reopening with less state funding. Now, the president has taken to Twitter to threaten the loss of federal funding as well.​

“If truly getting students back to school is a priority, then give us the resources to make it happen,” said Joe Cantafio, a West Seneca teacher and leader of the West Seneca teacher union.

​“He alone does not have the authority to withhold federal funding from our schools,” Larry Scott, Member-at-Large of the Buffalo Board of Education, said, “What we need is the exact opposite of what the president is calling for. We need more investment.”

​“This isn't about the president's tweet or the government's statement. This is about doing the right thing for your school district and your region at the right time,” said Mark Laurrie, superintendent of Niagara Falls City Schools, “A tighter budget and a pandemic are double hits to a small urban poor school district.”

​New York City Mayor De Blasio painted a picture for the rest of the state by announcing schools there would go back 1 to 3 days a week in September.​

​“While that may be fine for the region that he's working in. I think it's not a one size fits all script,” Laurrie said.

​Reopening plans will most likely very based off of the school district's density. Which means there could be a particularly difficult challenge ahead for the Buffalo Public School system.

​“We have many more people and many more students in a confined space in a building than you do in a suburban district so it is much more complex, much more challenging for Buffalo public schools to come up with our own guidelines,” said Scott.

​Governor Cuomo said state guidelines will be released July 13th. Schools have to submit their individual plans by the end of the month. Then the state, not individual cities or districts, will decide if and when schools can reopen.​ Safety will take a seat at the head of the class. ​

“I talk to teachers every single day. We want our kids back in school. We want to be back in school,” said Cantafio.