Buffalo Schools May Go Back to Remote Learning in January | #education | #technology | #training

(TNS) — Buffalo Public Schools students might return to fully remote instruction — temporarily — after the winter break.

“I’m considering closing for one week and moving to remote instruction for one week after the break,” Superintendent Kriner Cash said in an interview.

He plans to consult today with the district’s medical advisory team, led by Dr. Dennis Kuo, and with a representative from Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein’s office to get an update on COVID-19, particularly the Omicron variant.

Because the data on Omicron changes so rapidly, he said, he wants to take as much time as he can to make an informed decision, while balancing that with the need to give families as much time as possible to prepare.

He plans to meet with the medical advisory team every other day.

Some of the questions that he wants answers to: How quickly is Omicron spreading locally? What is known about the severity of the symptoms caused by Omicron? How much protection do the vaccines provide?

Cash said he hopes to make a decision by Thursday, but no later than next week.

“My goal is to come back if everything tells us that we can do so safely,” he said.

But he is not nearly as confident as most other local school superintendents that will happen. Leaders of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association have consistently advocated for keeping instruction fully in person for the entire academic year, pointing to the relatively low rate of COVID-19 transmission within schools.

Cash would like to see that happen, too, he said, but the circumstances might require something different.

He sent families a letter on Monday asking all students and staff to take their laptops and iPads home this week before winter break.

“While no decision or timetable has been set to shift to remote instruction at this time, this will ensure the district is fully prepared for any eventuality,” he wrote.

Families in need of internet access will be able to pick up a hot spot from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 27 to 30 at the district’s Center for Innovation, Technology and Training at 1515 South Park Ave. Help with student devices also will be available.

©2021 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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