“It’s out of control — here in Erie County — here in Buffalo,” remarked Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent, Buffalo Public School District.
The city schools superintendent appeared Thursday morning for a news briefing outside the Buffalo School of Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management on Huron Street.
Cash said the district wants students back in the classroom, but right now, believes it's not safe because of community spread.
“It’s only going to get worse,” remarked Cash.
However, Cash outlined the district's plans discussed by the Buffalo Board of Education Wednesday evening during a work session.
The plan calls to begin returning students after the first of the year.
The district would begin returning the highest needs students by February 1st and all pre-k-through 12 students to return by mid-March.
Cash said high school seniors would be included in that phase-in.
“But I don't want any seniors to fall in the cracks and to get lost during all of this,” explained Cash.
Cash told reporters he is following the advice of the district’s medical director and advisory committee.
For now remote learning will continue for city students.
Buffalo pediatrician Dr. Rachel Kaufman said it’s a “safe decision.”
“You can catch up on your education — if your beloved family members pass away that can't be recovered from in the same way,” Kaufman remarked, Buffalo Pediatric Associates.
Dr. Kaufman said she is seeing more children test positive for the virus than last spring and it is clearly from community spread.
“There is some research suggesting that children younger than ten can return to classrooms without fueling their local pandemic, but that isn't the same thing as saying it's a completely safe endeavor,” Kaufman stated.
The superintendent says although suburban districts are reopening, you can't compare that to the city district.
“And the rest of the schools in this county they're not like us — they're a whole different apple —this is the second largest school system in New York State,” Cash noted.
Cash said the district has a very diverse population.
“We want them in school, but the issues are too severe for underserved communities and black and brown communities,” Cash said.
Cash also disputed the governor's relaxing of testing for schools in the orange and yellow zones.
“And in my mind it is not safe because its too low of a bar it's too low of a safety bar — the requirements are easy fulfill but they still don't tell you anything about the spread,” responded Cash.
The superintendent said the overall attendance rate is for remote learners is doing well.
- Overall rate at 85%
- 92% of pre-K students are in the virtual classroom
- 85% of K-8 students
- 78% of high school students are all attending class
Parents will be receiving a survey.
@Buffalo_Schools Superintendent Cash says with the virus at high rates in the community it has been recommended schools not reopen until February. @WKBW https://t.co/YmTfEnNgFT pic.twitter.com/wCq0Nvq24A— eileen buckley (@eileenwkbw) December 10, 2020
Cash said this is the only news conference he will do until the virus calms down, saying he put himself at risk by coming out.
“We’re not gonna do this anymore - we’re not going to do this anymore not until this thing calms down — because I put my self at risk coming out today,” declared Cash.