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What will schools look like in the fall? New York looks to craft school reopening guidance

The Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department has created a school reopening task force, made up educators from across the state.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There are still a lot of questions about what the coming school year will look like, from sanitizing to how classrooms will look. The New York State Education Department has begun the process of finding out what guidelines will be in place. 

The Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department has created a school reopening task force, made up educators from across the state. Monday was their first meeting.

The state started off the meeting by hearing virtually from educators in Western New York; however, 2 On Your Side could not hear directly from those schools.

The state is looking at options of in-person schooling, virtual classes or some sort of combination of the two.

Over the past semester, many students struggled with online work that they normally would get in in-person schooling and schools need to create as normal a school day as possible. But, whatever the state comes up with, experts say it's important for schools to focus on what students feel is normal. 

"In your planning for return to school, return to the norms and the rituals that are safe and welcoming in collaboration with your students and families reflect on your school's climate think about what's felt special, what's felt core to your school's identity and engenders a sense of belonging that you want to keep," said Natalie Walrond, the director of the Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety.

There are questions about how schools will enforce issues such as someone refusing to wear a mask or wash their hands. There is the reality that the New York State Education Department can't come up with guidance until they hear from the New York State Department of Health on guidance.

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa says a "bridge" needs to be created between the health department and schools. 

There will be three more task force meetings, which will be held over the next week — all virtually. Suggestions and recommendations from these meetings will be used to come up with guidance for this coming school year. 

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