Falls City School leader says reopen includes special education students

"That's what we do. That's our business"
Posted at 5:25 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 08:49:40-04

NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) — Now that school districts have recommendations for reopening schools, some parents of special needs students are worried about how it would effect their child.

But to the Niagara Falls City School District says it will be ready for special education students.

"We will make sure that face coverings are worn. That soap and water is used a lot and hand sanitizer is used a lot," remarked Mark Laurrie, superintendent, Niagara Falls City School District.

Cataract Elementary School classroom.

Superintendent Laurrie wants to reassure parents the district's reopen plan will include all special education students.

Of the 7,200 students attending the Falls City District, more than one thousand of them are classified as special education.

"We do have a number of students that have wheel chairs. We do have a number of children that have personal care aides. We do and that does put a different layer of social distancing and special hygiene requirement," Laurrie stated.

At the Cataract Elementary School, they have a 20 percent special education population, but the principal said they will be ready when school reopens.

"We have a very large population here at Cataract," said Jeff Showers, principal.

Principal Showers says every child at his school will be taken care of when students return.

In fact his school team is already making wellness calls to families.

Cataract Elementary School,

"We are making calls daily to see how are kids are doing and families and we've know our families for a long time," Showers explained.

"How do you ease a parents concern that they will keep their mask on?" asked Buckley. "It's a culture that we're going to have grow and it's something that we as the adults -- we're definitely going to be modeling that and that' starts with myself," replied Showers.

Some parents say Governor Andrew Cuomo has not included special needs students in his reopen recommendations, but superintendent Laurrie says it's up to individual districts...

"That's what we do. That's our business. We better be ready for it," declared Laurrie.

Laurrie says as the district continues drafting its reopen plan he does not expect to bring back all 7,200 city school students in one day. Instead, there will most likely be staggered schedules with some in-school and long-distance learning.