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Thousands of families opt for virtual learning, choosing not to follow hybrid models

In some school districts one-fifth or more of students won't physically be in school this fall and instead will learn virtually.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There are a lot of concerns and questions from many parents on whether to send their children back to school as a new and very challenging school year approaches.

Thousands of families have already decided to do just remote learning this fall. This as parents voice their concerns about reopening plans. You’re really able to get an idea on the questions and concerns parents have from district parent meetings. The state is mandating that districts hold several meetings with parents by Friday.

Many schools have already started to have those meetings. But for some districts those meetings are starting up, for example in Depew Schools, the district had its first parents meeting Tuesday morning.

Another one is planned for Tuesday evening.

Parents submitted questions on a range of issues from sanitation to how virtual learning will be handled to transportation. Questions from parents were answered by the school superintendent, who made certain parts of the district’s reopening plan very clear.

"Parents by sending your children to school each day, you are confirming you have completed a daily home health screening, if you are unable to complete the full screening at home please contact your school nurse so arrangements can be made at school," said Jeffrey Rabey, superintendent of the Depew Union Free School District.

One parent asked what happens if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school. 

"When a confirmed case is reported in a building we send notification to the entire district all parents and staff to make everyone aware that the infection is present in a building so that they can take necessary precautions due to privacy laws we will not disclose details about individuals who test positive for COVID-19," Rabey said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that if there is a COVID spread in a school, that school will be shut down; however, the governor did not define what a spread entails.

A number of districts have parent meetings Tuesday night, such as Orchard Park, Williamsville and West Seneca. Meanwhile Buffalo Schools will focus on health and safety information.

We are getting numbers on how many students are opting for just virtual learning this fall.

In Depew, nearly 200 students just want remote learning. In Sweet Home Schools, the district superintendent says about 20 percent have opted for virtual learning. In Ken-Ton 25 percent of students say they want to learn remotely.

And, in Chautauqua County, 20 percent of students in Fredonia Schools have opted for virtual learning.

Many districts are asking families to let their schools know by Friday on whether they want to opt into just virtual learning this fall. This so that schools have enough time to prepare.

In Niagara Falls, the district's superintendent says 10 percent of students have opted for remote learning. Superintendent Mark Laurrie says he expects that number to grow. The district is will soon roll out laptops.

"We will have a day or days when you’ll be able to come in with your child pick up the child’s laptop sign the paperwork for them your child actually has to log onto that computer to activate everything that we need for him or her to learn from," Laurrie said.

We’ve heard from many school leaders that say they will re-evaluate how to educate students as the school year progresses, so the number of students doing virtual learning or a hybrid model could change.

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