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Answers to parent questions after Erie County releases school reopening guidance

2 On Your Side has received hundreds of comments and many questions related to Erie County's school reopening guidance.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — 2 On Your Side has been doing its best to answer your questions on Erie County's school reopening guidance.

We've been getting a range of questions on various parts of the guidance from the two sets of quarantine for vaccinated and unvaccinated people in schools and the mask mandate inside schools, which is in line with CDC school guidance. 

Here's one question -- why is there a recommendation for masking outdoors?

Although the spread of COVID-19 is less likely outdoors, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Bustein says there have been cases of COVID spread outdoors even with people who are fully vaccinated, again this is a recommendation and not a mandate.

Another question -- how can Erie County mandate these school protocols?

There still is a State of Emergency declaration in Erie County and county officials believe they can issue the guidance by the powers of the Erie County Health Commissioner.

"As a parent and a community health worker, we just want to make sure everybody is healthy and safe and supported we're dealing with unprecedented times we certainly want our children to be back in school," said Jessica Bauer Walker, the Executive Director of the Community Health Worker Network.

We have gotten a number of questions on physically being back in school as opposed to doing remote learning. 

Another question, can school's offer remote learning to kids who want it?

Public health officials and school leaders have consistently said that in-person learning is the way to go. However, according to guidance from the state Education Department, in case of school closures due to a declared public health emergency, schools must be prepared to provide remote instruction.

Also, there are schools that are offering remote learning to those who have underlying health issues. Your best to check with your school to see what they're offering. 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says schools would have the discretion on remote learning and work with the county on that. Poloncarz also says virtual learning centers have not been set up yet. 

"Protocols have been put in place for COVID, but we're concerned about things like nutrition, mental health, physical activity, health education so those are all pieces from our perspective as parents and community health workers that really need to be considered," Bauer Walker said. 

Another question -- how will students in quarantine receive instruction?

According to Michael Cornell, the superintendent of Hamburg Schools and the president of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association, schools will offer a variety of options -- remote learning, use of the school online portal, or perhaps, through learning materials in paper form.