Some Buffalo Schools students could return to in-person learning on February 1st, 2021

All Pre-K through 12 students could return by mid-March 2021
Posted at 9:21 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 23:19:50-05

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.

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.

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.

Administrators say they do not want to reopen schools now because of the rise of COVID-19 cases throughout Western New York.

“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.