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Local teachers preparing for many scenarios for the fall

They are doing so because NYS hasn't said whether kids will be taking classes online or in-person.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Teachers are preparing their lesson plans for the fall right now. 

However, it's bringing up several challenges for them when Gov. Cuomo hasn't announced whether or not teachers will be teaching online or in-person.

Many of the teachers 2 On Your Side spoke to say they're now having to prepare for both.

"Most of the teachers I talk to down in this region really are having many plans in place. Administrators have done an excellent job communicating that. We would love to be able to have a normal return in the fall but realistically, so that our kids benefit, we have to be ready for anything that is kind of thrown at us," said Laura Hodara, a fifth grade teacher at Seneca Intermediate. 

Hodara says teachers she works with at Seneca Intermediate in Salamanca are putting an emphasis on preparation, so kids don't fall behind in the new academic year. 

One of the biggest questions she says teachers like herself are trying to figure out is how they're going to develop vital relationships with students that are brand new. 

"Curriculum can come but building that relationship is huge," Hodara said. 

That's especially true for special education students. 

"It takes longer for them to trust you as well. They've had not great experiences in school, their self esteem isn't very great because they don't feel like they're capable or they can do it and so building that relationship is the most important part of my job," said Carolyn Bauer, a special education teacher at Ellicottville Central. 

Terra Bialy is a theater teacher at Buffalo's Tapestry Charter School. She says remote learning makes it difficult to teach specialized classes, such as the arts or physical education, that require students to be in close proximity of each other. 

Even if students do go back to in-person classes this fall, she says their age can present an issue with public health guidelines. 

"What happens if I have to try to keep a bunch of five-year-olds six feet away from each other, or even keep their masks on if that becomes a regulation," Bialy said. 

With so many questions up in the air, teachers say they just hope Cuomo makes a decision sooner rather than later for teachers and families.

"All parents across the Western New York region are struggling with 'how am I going to find child care? How am I helping my kid? I don't want them to fall behind," said Darcy Zappia, a third grade teacher at Southtowns Catholic. "The sooner that parents, teachers and children know what's going on, the more than can prepare for what September may or may not look like."

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