Inside the reopening process at Hamburg Central Schools

Guidance from the state expected next week

an classroom classroom in the Summer of 2020

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Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) "This is not a problem that you solve like a Rubik's cube, where there are a set of steps, you finish it and set it aside. This is a lot more complex than that," said Michael Cornell, Superintendent of Hamburg Central Schools.

"There's a lot we don't know about Covid-19. There are a lot of variables. The circumstances could change quickly. We're attempting to manage an ongoing challenge."

Cornell and other school superintendents are expecting guidance on reopening from the state at some point next week on the reopening of schools.

"We have to remember that they have a difficult challenge developing guidance for such a large state. We have to be patient while they go about their work," said Cornell.

All 700 school districts across the state have been instructed to come up with a reopening plan for their district.

"What we're doing in Hamburg is creating a process that allows us to build planning that takes into account the complexity of the challenge that is before us," he said.

Cornell has about 100 people working in different teams to help us figure out how to restart school.  Everyone has a different role to play. "For example, we have the Board of Education working with the Superintendent. They see the whole field, the whole organization. We have stakeholders who represent particular constituencies such as bargaining units, the PTA. Then, we have three separate working groups with fifteen or twenty people in each of those.  On top of that, we have core teams, or decision making teams who look at the practical aspect of plans. 

Cornell said he needs to put as many ideas as possible on the table."We have to be ready for everything and anything."

Every plan will be put through a test. "What does the plan look like if we're in person with all students on campus every day. Then we look at it if we're in a hybrid schedule where half of the kids are there one day and half are there another day. And then we look at what happens if we are in a full remote learning scenario," said Cornell. 

Cornell said one thing he is confident about, is that there are amazing people in Hamburg who value collaboration and the marketplace of ideas. "I think we're up to the challenge," he said.

"It's absolutely critical that education continues, and school opens in some form," said Dr.Tom Russo, infectious disease expert at the Jacobs School of Medicine. "But," he adds, "it's critical that we do it in as safe a manner as possible and minimize the risk of infections from coronavirus."  Russo said every school is different and each will come up with a different plan as they look for the best way to reopen. "It's complicated," he said.

Russo said the greatest concern in reopening school is if children get infected in school and bring the virus home to parents and grandparents. 

 

 

 

 

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