Local Schools Preparing for Possible Closures

Superintendents are preparing amid coronavirus concern

Brendan Keany
March 13, 2020 - 3:30 pm
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BUFFALO (WBEN) - As coronavirus concerns press on, local parents are wondering about potential school closures.

"We're preparing for a possible closure whenever that might come, if it does come," said Dr. Richard Hughes, superintendent of Frontier schools. "I'm suspecting it's more of a matter of when not if it's going to happen."

While Hughes couldn't provide an exact timeline of when Erie County residents should expect schools to close, he said this entire situation has been something that he and fellow superintendent colleagues have been monitoring very closely.

"Without having a case present (in Erie County), that's the ball that's going to drop," he said.

Governor Cuomo has previously announced that any school in New York State to have a confirmed case of coronavirus, whether it be from a student or staff member, would automatically be shut down for at least 24 hours until health officials can fully investigate the situation. On Friday morning, Cuomo further discussed school closures and said, as of now, they're placing the decision to close on superintendents.

"Any superintendent can decide to close their schools - many have," said Cuomo. "It's a local decision; it's not a state decision - the only mandate we have is that if you have a positive child you must close for 24 hours.

"You have many school districts that are closing for one reason or another," Cuomo continued. "To do mass closings of schools is not without consequence - schools also run food programs for many students. If you close schools, now what do you do with those children who are home all day? If you close schools, you now have parents that can't go to work. You have parents who are working in healthcare facilities who can't go to work. So, it's not that easy."

Hughes echoed some of Cuomo's sentiments, saying they're already planning food programs in the event that Frontier schools close. Hughes is also concerned about home instruction, as not all students have the same access to technology, which really limits what could be done.

"When you have students who do not have Wifi access at home, you're putting them at a distinct disadvantage from other students," said Hughes. "I'm not asking our teacher to teach anything new (if schools close), because that puts kids at a disadvantage whether kids do not have access, or they're students where accommodations are made for IEP special ed services...it's going to be impossible to provide those services, so we can't have an expectation that we're just going to teach from home."

Listen to Hughes' full comments below:

The following statement was released by Dr. Scott G. Martzloff, Superintendent of Schools Williamsville Central School District:

Dear Parents,

While there is still no confirmed case of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Western New York, out of an abundance of caution the Williamsville Central School District is taking the proper precautions to help prevent the spread of the disease.

First, all field trips outside of Western New York are canceled for the remainder of the school year. Second, beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020 all school activities that feature gatherings of 500 or more people are canceled. We are currently evaluating additional dates and events on the calendar and communicating with the school principals on whether they will continue.

If the Williamsville Central School District is forced to close for an extended period of time, we will be implementing the following communication plan to keep families informed and students educated:

Communication

·         Our primary source of communication to students and parents will be through WITS

·         We will continue to regularly update our District website and share information on our social media platforms when appropriate

·         Twitter - @WCSD_K12

·         Facebook – Williamsville Central School District (@WCSDK12)

Education will continue electronically

The District has been planning and preparing for extended electronic education and has provided guidance to administrators and staff.  Assignments will be provided to students through WITS. 

We are aware of technological barriers within our district and are also preparing packets that can be sent home with students if needed.

Information on the Coronavirus

As we continue to learn more about this disease and work diligently to prevent the spread, it’s important to practice good hygiene and preventative strategies.

We encourage you to follow these simple steps to help keep you and the community as safe and healthy as possible:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based (60% or higher) hand sanitizer

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick

- Stay home when you are sick

- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

Additional information regarding the Coronavirus, which includes a fact sheet, frequently asked questions and preventative strategies can be found on our web page: https://www.williamsvillek12.org/news_detail_T2_R322.php

While the situation and information surrounding the Coronavirus continues to evolve, the health and safety of our District and community remains our top priority.

We will continue to work diligently and swiftly at the direction of local and national health officials to ensure that.

Sincerely,

Dr. Scott G. Martzloff

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