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COVID-19 cases are on rise in Western New York Schools

Posted at 6:04 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 18:21:20-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Covid cases are rising in school districts across Western New York. So far this week, 100 people have tested positive for the virus, and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said she expects the number to increase even more in the days and weeks ahead.

“We’re gonna have a really tough winter and we’re gonna anticipate seeing a lot of infections," Burstein said. "Even higher numbers than we’re seeing now. And these infections are really reflective of our community's behavior.”

Dr. Burstein said schools have been seeing an uptick in covid cases in-part due to youth travel sports.

“In Buffalo, a lot of those sports are hockey," she said. "We’re seeing that teams are going and traveling out of state, especially to Pennsylvania, where they’re playing with people not only from Pennsylvania where we see very high rates, they’re also playing with other players from other states with even higher rates.”

Dr. Burstein says these athletes are then going back to school, putting teachers and their peers at risk.

“If one child has tested positive in a classroom that meets for 60 minutes or more, the whole class is quarantined, and they have virtual learning for two weeks time.”

Niagara Falls Superintendent Mark Laurie said if we do not get this COVID 19 pandemic under control, we’ll soon face another one.

“The pandemic of COVID is really kinda rising, but the pandemic of loss of learning is really kind of next to it,” he said.

Laurrie is asking all the families in his district to take a pause on traveling.

“And I was a hockey dad and a baseball dad," he said. "I know how time goes by quickly with your children and how those events can pass quickly. But let's do it for the long hall because when we do that, we’ll get back to it quicker.”

Burstein said the practice of high-risk sports such as ice hockey is a direct violation of NY Forward, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s guidelines on how New Yorkers should be operating. We've reached out to several travel leagues for comments, but we have yet to hear back.