BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Governor Andrew Cuomo says students should be able to return for in-person learning this fall.
Cuomo made his comments Monday in Long Island following the announcement by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio that New York City schools would open fully in September with no remote learning.
"We have to get back to school," declared Cuomo. “If you ask me today, by the current trajectory that we are on, I think there’s no reason why every school shouldn’t be open in September."
But while New York City schools won’t be providing remote learning to families in the fall, the Buffalo Public School District is expected to offer the option.
The two districts are very different in size when it comes to enrollment & number of teachers:
- NYC Public Schools enrolls more than 1.1 million students
- Buffalo Public Schools enrolls 33,100 students
- 80,000 teachers in NYC Public Schools
- 3,800 teachers in BPS
“We need to be conscious and mindful of our own place and our own circumstances,” explained Rachel Fix Dominguez, parent.
Dominguez says she believes offering remote learning next fall should still be an option for Buffalo Public School families.
Dominiguez, co-chair, Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization, says a plan for the next school year will be presented at the June 4th city school board meeting.
“We would like for remote teachers to teach remote students and for in-person teachers to teach in-person students in the upcoming year,” Dominguez explained.
Dominguez also points out that transportation is much different for Buffalo school students than in New York City.
“We don't have the extensive public transportation system utilized at all grade levels in Buffalo that is available in New York City and is widely utilized in New York City as a means of getting to and from school,” Dominguez replied.
About 150,000 New York City school students also rely on yellow school buses. About 10,000 Buffalo Public School students rely on public transportation.
“I think ultimately, some of these decisions should rest with the parents unless there is a good reason,” remarked Phil Rumore, president, Buffalo Teachers Federation.
Rumore says it's important for kids to be back in school, but families should have the option of remote learning next school year.
“How do teachers feel about that?”, asked Buckley.
"I think there are teachers that understand that there are cases, where parents in consultation with teachers and the district, should be allowed to deal with remote,” responded Rumore.
Not all city students are in hybrid or five day a week, in person learning in city classroom. 37.2 percent of students decided to remain in all remote learning.
The city school district provided 7 Eyewitness News with the latest precentages of students in-school, hybrid and remote learning:
- Hybrid: 42.55%
- Five Day in School: 20.22%
- Virtual Only: 37.22%
“I think that Buffalo is making the right decision by making remote an option. I don't know why New York City has decided not to make an option, but I think that's a mistake,” said Sam Radford, co-chair, We the Parents.
Radford, a long-time Buffalo school advocate, says parents are the ones who should have the option of deciding for what learning method works best for their child.
But Radford tells 7 Eyewitness News he is very concerned about some school families who have disappeared from remote learning.
“What about the children that has fall completely off the radar screen?”, questioned Buckley.
“That's the elephant in the room,” replied Radford. “We have not had a serious conversation in this community about the number of children that we have lost track of during this pandemic and the number of children who are not logging on and who we have not essentially scene in a year — six months.”
Cuomo saying disparities in some households made it difficult for students to learn remotely.
“Remote learning with COVID discriminated. It discriminated.Poor households — more minority households were not as successful with remote learning,” stated Gov. Cuomo. “It was the best that we could do in a bad situation. but by no stretch of the imagination is remote learning a substitute for in-class participation. there is also a socialization aspect that goes with school.”
But Cuomo says there will most likely be a statewide policy to return students to classrooms fully this fall.
“I think there is no reason why every school shouldn't be open in in September,” Cuomo said.
New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta issued the following statement today following Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s comments about reopening schools this fall:
“Educators know that being in person is the best way for students to learn and for teachers to teach. We support offering full-time in-person instruction five days a week and await formal guidance for the fall on how districts, working with educators and parents, should craft their plans to bring all students back to the classroom.”