BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Students in Buffalo Public Schools will start the school year remotely. The Buffalo Board of Education unanimously approved a "remote only" recommendation by Superintendent Kriner Cash during a virtual meeting on Wednesday night.
Dr. Cash called his presentation "the most important recommendation" of his career. The Board of Education then also asked a series of questions.
Dr. Cash said his recommendation was based on feedback from teachers, parents, students and principals. Key elements of the plan were discussed in detail with members of the Buffalo Board of Education including technology needs, internet access and how a remote daily schedule for teachers and students would look.
“We are prepared as we can be," said Dr. Cash. He said he felt the district is in a “much better” position now than the spring. BPS will be evaluating this plan weekly, even daily according to Superintendent Cash.
Thursday district officials held a press conference to further detail the remote reopening plan.
"We believe in putting children first...we will not put them in harms way,” said Board President Sharon Belton-Cottman.
Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore says to start the year remote was the “right thing to do, but the devil will be in the details."
Teachers are expected to “follow a typical schedule” during the school day.
“That math teacher would have five periods of instruction although one or two might be office hours," said Buffalo Public Schools' Chief Academic Officer, Anne Botticelli.
Students will also see a “full day of instruction," including both real-time learning and independent work.
"Consideration for an earlier in person phase-in" learning model will also be considered for special needs students.
“We’re asking schools not only to create a schedule, but to coordinate between teachers and departments so that they don’t overload students with work," said Botticelli.
Here is what a typical day will look like for teachers, students, etc. under the full remote plan.
- BPS will make sure every student has a device to learn remotely with, Dr. Cash said the district will go door-to-door to ensure that if they have to.
- Dr. Cash wants to negotiate a deal for every student to have internet access.
- BPS will buy high speed hot spots for students from the smart school funding, according to Dr. Cash.
- BPS will continue serving meals. All school sites will be open two days a week to distribute a week’s worth of meals, says Dr. Cash.
- BPS will continue teletherapy for special education students and start working on ways to phase in in-person learning.
- BPS has invested in multi-lingual applications and specialists to keep families in the loop, according to district officials, “our multilingual learning will not be left behind.”
- Dr. Cash says he will do walk throughs of schools with medical officials and they’ve addressed most issues with hot water, "we’re moving forward every day to ensure our school buildings are in tip top shape.”
Dr. Cash says they will focus on the social aspect for students. When asked if teachers would return to school to teach during remote learning Cash said he would love to see teachers do that, even if two or three times a week if they’re comfortable.
While it remains a fluid situation, the hope is to eventually move to a hybrid model. The Board of Education agreed to examine the effectiveness of the remote plan after 4-6 weeks.
“It’s going to be a balancing act, Mr. Scott, between trying to get students back in school in person, in a hybrid model or other versus an extended period in remote," said Dr. Cash.
The first day of school for Buffalo's 33,000 students is scheduled for September 8, staff will begin the year September 1.
You can watch the full press conference below.