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Returning to in-person learning, five days a week

Posted at 8:47 PM, Apr 07, 2021

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — Last month the CDC came out with new school guidance. It suggests three feet of distance between students instead of the previous six.

Since that time, local school districts say they’ve been waiting for guidance from the state on when the districts can move to full five day in person instruction.

“We’ve done our best,” said Niagara Falls City School Superintendent Mark Laurrie on virtual instruction. “It would be a lot better in-person,” he said.

Laurrie says his district is ready to bring students back to full-time in-person learning.

“We have a plan,” he said. “Our plan would include bringing elementary students back first, along with our 12th graders.”

Right now, many districts adopt a hybrid learning model, where students come to school part of the week, and learn from home the other days.

“Our younger children have not had the learning opportunities they would have had they been in school,” he said.

Laurrie says moving to three feet between students provides more flexibility. He says desks would need to be moved and furniture moved to storage.

The state has yet to approve any plans, and announce when five day in-person learning can resume. Governor Andrew Cuomo says it’s not as simple as some suggest.

“Some superintendents like it. Many superintendents don't like it. Some parents like it. Many parents don't like it. Some teachers like it. Many teachers don't like it.,” he said during a conference call Monday. “The reason it's taking time is it is very controversial,” Cuomo said.

In the beginning of the school year, many districts gave students the opportunity to learn 100% virtually this year. Because of that, Laurrie says 28% of students would not be returning to the classroom under the new guidance, which would free up some space.

Dr. Thomas Russo from the University at Buffalo says wearing a mask all day is key in keeping disease out of the classroom.

“If we can open the windows and improve ventilation, that would be ideal,” he said.

For activities like band and physical education, Laurrie says there will be six feet distance between students.