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BPS announces full reopening with masks, other safety precautions

'It's a very serious matter. It continues to be a serious matter and we want to do all we can to protect our children and staff at this time,' Dr. Kriner Cash said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution for the district to move forward with its plan to return all students to school buildings five days a week effective September 8. 

That's with several safety precautions in place -- including masks being required for everyone inside the buildings regardless of vaccination status, social distancing and assigned seats in school and on busses.

The district is also urging all adults to get vaccinated. 

"It's very important that we look at and adhere to the layered approach to safety and protection of all of our staff and our students and that's what this resolution essentially supports," said Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash.

He added, "It's a very serious matter. It continues to be a serious matter and we want to do all we can to protect our children and staff at this time." 

During a Board of Education meeting, parents and community members had a chance to voice their thoughts on the plan. A few were vocal in their opposition to a mask mandate. 

However, Dr. Cash's resolution still passed in a 7-2 vote.

Here is some of what the district's addendum outlines with COVID 19 safety and protection protocols:

  • The district said all students will attend school full-time, in-person, five days per week. Exemptions for specific medical reasons will follow the District’s updated requirements for Medical Leave Instruction.
  • Computer devices are currently undergoing a thorough sanitization process and being prepared to provide secure student access to grade-appropriate instructional resource tools for a phased-in redistribution for the start of school. New computer devices are being purchased and expected to arrive in the District by late fall.
  • Physical Education classes should be conducted outside in acceptable weather. When classes are conducted inside, students will be masked. Teachers should make specific efforts to establish properly distanced mask breaks for students.
  • The District will participate in our regular program of Section VI Varsity sports. All other athletics programs normally in place in the District shall re-launch on September 8. All COVID-19 safety protocols previously in place for all BPS sports programs shall continue.
  • The BPS After School Program is on hold until further notice.
  • Saturday Community School Programs in collaboration with Say Yes Buffalo is scheduled to begin phasing in throughout the District in October.
  • Until further notice, field trips will not be scheduled. High School student internships, work assignments, or other release programs shall commence on schedule on September 8.

To read the full resolution, click here

BPS officials warned as the situation evolves some elements of the plan could be subject to change.

While other districts are still ironing out their plans, incoming governor Kathy Hochul weighed in on what is likely to come.

Hochul told reporters, "Mask mandates are something that the department of health has the authority to call for. They have that authority now and I will assess whether that's called for. But I believe we'll need mask mandates for children to go back to school and that will have to be universal. It will be state-wide."