BUFFALO, N.Y. — According to officials with the New York State Education Department, school reopening guidance will be released Thursday; however, it was supposed to be released on Wednesday.
The department says it is still finalizing the guidance document, saying it will be sent out in a news release when it's ready.
When the guidance is sent out we can expect requirements to sanitize buses, masks needing to be worn by students on buses and in school – but not when students are at lunch, so long as social distancing is in place – and a path forward on in-person and virtual schooling.
We can also expect requirement as it pertains to in-person schooling, and this really is for kids in pre-K and kindergarten. There must be one teacher assigned to each class for 3-year-old students with a class size of seven children or fewer, and there must be one teacher assigned to each class for 4-year-old students with a class size of eight children or fewer.
Schools can also decide whether they plan to have certain students in school more often than others, such as those in early grades, students with disabilities and international students.
Health screenings need to be done – the state health department says everyone should have their temperature checked each day. But it’s still unclear whose responsibility that will be.
In Buffalo, there are concerns over social distancing.
"To my knowledge the buildings that we do have that we are utilizing for schools they’re packed they’re crowded there isn’t space in them we don’t have the capacity to spread them out and have fewer students," said Buffalo School Board member Larry Scott.
Scott also has concerns about busing.
"Buses are a challenge to keep structured and managed and when we’re talking about requiring kids to be distant requiring kids to kind of keep to themselves wearing masks keeping those buses clean and sanitized I think that’s going to be a huge challenge for us," he said.
Schools will likely be able to create plans to expand their footprint, to allow for social distancing but those plans will need to be approved by the state.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was in at the Attica School District Wednesday, talking about a package lawmakers in Congress are working on that would provide $175 billion to schools across the country to deal with various costs related to the pandemic.
"The way to solve this problem in my judgement and in the judgement of many in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans is for the federal government to provide schools like Attica like all those in Wyoming County like all those in Western New York with the dollars they need for the masks and the PPE," Schumer said.
Other costs for transportation and technology would also be covered. Schumer says Erie County for example, would get tens of millions of dollars under the plan. If passed, districts would get the money immediately.
In the meantime, schools need to submit their reopening plans to the state by the end of the month. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said a decision on schools will be made in early August, and it will depend on a specific region’s infection rate.