WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — Elementary school students in several school districts in Western New York start five-day in-person learning on Monday, including two of the region's biggest districts.
The Williamsville Central School District, Niagara Falls City School District, Hamburg Central School District and Lewiston-Porter Central School District will all welcome elementary students back.
Per state guidelines, though, students in middle and high schools can not return to five-day in-person learning unless there are fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 county residents.
Williamsville Central School District
Earlier in April, Western New York's second-largest school district released its plan to bring students back to class for fully in-person instruction.
But because the state's guidelines prevent middle and high school students from going back to fully in-person learning in many districts like Williamsville, several parents in the district have taken the district to court to get older students back to five-day, in-person learning.
A New York State Supreme Court judge is expected to issue a written decision on that lawsuit after hearing arguments on a similar case in Orchard Park on Tuesday.
Niagara Falls City School District
Elementary school students start learning in-person five days per week Monday in Niagara Falls as well.
Any student who is currently in a hybrid learning model will automatically be brought back to the classroom for fully in-person instruction unless their parents request otherwise.
But on Thursday, Niagara Falls City Schools superintendent Mark Laurrie told 7 Eyewitness News that it would be difficult for many communities to drop below the state's COVID case threshold to bring older students back to the classroom, so the district is focusing its efforts on in-person learning for elementary students for now.
"How I would very much love to have our high school and middle school students back by the state rules, we're nowhere close to being able to do that," said Laurrie. "And I might say the most trying thing would be to get under that threshold and get over that threshold and get under it again and have kids flip-flopping back and forth that's not something we want to do."
You can watch that full discussion below.
Hamburg Central School District
The Hamburg Central School District says it is ready to welcome elementary students back to in-person learning Monday.
District Superintendent Michael Cornell told 7 Eyewitness News earlier in April that the district has been preparing to do it since February.
During a live interview on 7 Eyewitness News at 6:00 a.m., he said, "The CDC and the New York State Department of Health have chosen an especially conservative approach, which is why we are really comfortable with three feet and a mask at the elementary level."