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Survey Says: Districts seek input from beyond school walls on how to best re-open

Many districts will use the responses, to formulate their reopening plan, based on the state guidelines released just yesterday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — If you haven't received one already, don't be surprised to get a survey from your school district, asking how you think schools should best reopen this fall.

Many districts are using surveys and the responses from them to formulate their reopening plan, based on the state guidelines released just Thursday.

A recent survey by Erie One BOCES involving 25,000 participants across 17 Western New York school districts found that 68% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that school should resume as normal in September with new procedures to reduce the spread of the virus.

“I think the hardest part about this is the health and safety part. " Interim New York State Education Commissioner Sharon Tahoe told WGRZ-TV.

Hamburg Central superintendent Michael Cornell, who is also the incoming president of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association agrees.

"We have to normalize behaviors that heretofore have not been part of the everyday life of schools, such as wearing masks and social distancing,” said Cornell.

As school buses are considered, under state guideline, to be an extension of schools, the same will hold there.

But how do you do that?

Buy more buses? Have more runs per day with scattered start times for students? Or, do you bifurcate school days for students who come on some days and learn from home on others?

A survey sent out in the Kenmore Tonawanda district, like in several others, asks parents if they be willing to drive their children to school, giving up their seat on  the bus in order to minimize occupancy and maximize social distancing for those who have no other transportation option.

“I think every school district is going to have to look at their own school population, their facilities, and see what they are possibly capable of producing." Tahoe said.

Meanwhile, summer, usually a time of leisure, is proving to be busier than ever for those running our schools who need to finalize their plans and submit them to the state by July 31.

“We’ve got three working groups,” said Cornell. One for instructional services, another for social emotional learning, and another for operational things like facilities and food services so no matter if we're on campus, or off campus, or using some sort of hybrid, we've still got a lot of work to do."

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