BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — During a virtual meeting Wednesday night, Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash laid out a recommendation for the district's reopening plans, where select students could return to the classroom as early as February 1st, 2021.
JUST IN: Dr. Kriner Cash lays out recommendation for BPS reopening plan. Phase One would be set for Monday, February 1st 2021 for neediest students and "select population". Full Pre-K through 12 students by Mid-March 2021. @WKBW #Buffalo pic.twitter.com/IvLuueetJH— Jeff Russo (@JeffRussoWKBW) December 10, 2020
During the presentation, Dr. Cash said the neediest students could return on February 1st, while all pre-K through 12 students could return by mid-March 2021. Students would be phased in every 1-2 weeks.
“We want our students to be in school," Dr. Cash said. "We miss our students. We love and miss all of our staff.”
Schools in the district will survey parents in the beginning of January so they're aware of who wants to return, giving parents the option to keep their kids learning remotely, or in-person.
Some additional notes: Schools will survey parents in the beginning of January to learn who wants to return. Parents can choose whether to remain remote or in-person. More details tonight at 11. @WKBW— Gilat Melamed (@gilat_melamed) December 10, 2020
BPS Medical Director Dr. Dennis Kuo said he wants to see a positivity rate below 5% before students returns, and believes February will be the right time.
“When we know that the cases are on the decline, and we know that we are confident in our ability to test, trace, and isolate, that is the point when we can reopen schools," he said. "Because we have to think about not just the students, but also teachers and the staff and everybody that's important to our students.”
Additionally, Dr. Cash announced that nearly 400 children in Buffalo have tested positive for COVID-19 since November 1st, despite schools being fully remote. He added that November saw the greatest spike in staff cases.
Cash says he does not feel comfortable opening schools at this time. He blames adults who are behaving badly. He shuts down theory that Covid doesn’t impact students. “Stop it,” he said.— Ashley Rowe (@AshleyroweWKBW) December 10, 2020
Administrators say they do not want to reopen schools now because of the rise of COVID-19 cases throughout Western New York.
Why February? Dr. Kuo doesn’t want to open schools until cases start coming down, and testing and tracing is solid. He feels that mid-January will be when we start seeing declining numbers, hence the February target date.— Ashley Rowe (@AshleyroweWKBW) December 10, 2020
“These aren’t usual circumstances, unusual, unprecedented, harmful," Dr. Cash said. "People are dying [in some] circumstances.”
Regarding the rising case numbers, Dr. Cash said, "I’m not sending our children and our students into the mouth of the volcano. I’m not going to do it."
In recent weeks, Governor Andrew Cuomo has emphasized the return of students in grades K-8 to classrooms. He said schools are safer than the surrounding community.
Several other districts in Erie County are planning on returning to in-person learning following New York State's decision to allow schools in the Orange Zone to reopen for in-person learning.
Buffalo Public Schools students have been learning remotely since the start of the 2020-21 school year.