Teachers concerned about social distancing, PPE

Prevention of COVID19 key as schools reopen

Tom Puckett
July 16, 2020 - 4:00 am

    Niagara Falls, NY (WBEN) As the countdown to returning to the classroom continues, teachers are concerned about keeping themselves and their students safe from coronavirus.

    "The main concern is schools are safe and healthy," says Andy Pallotta of New York State United Teachers. "Folks do want to get back to some semblance of normalcy, they want to get back to their students and teaching them, but they must have a safe and healthy environment." 

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    Pallotta says a top concern is social distancing. "Will there be six feet between each student? That is important. Also deep cleaning is important. Making sure that school is clean and sanitized every day, and masks, making sure everyone is wearing one, which has worked in New York," notes Pallotta. He adds PPE is also vital. "If someone forgets a mask, yes we have a mask for you. If an educator needs a face shield, gloves, whatever they need, including dividers between teachers and students, that should be in place."

    Niagara Falls Teachers Union president Dan Weiss says he'd like more help from Albany as far as direction goes. "There hasn't been solid guidance. If you look at the guidelines that have been put out depending on what packet you get from the state, there's ambiguous language that doesn't clearly outline what social distancing is," says Weiss, and that has kept talks with the district limited. "We haven't had any specifics mainly because we have been waiting for the state to release those guidelines, and the district must come up with a plan by the end of the month, and miraculously the state will go over 700 plans in one week and come out with more information that's available to school districts."

    Weiss says teachers want to make sure they're safe but their students are also safe. "I have two children who attend schools in the Niagara Falls City School District, and it is the utmost importance they stay safe," says Weiss. "Whe we talk social distancing, do we have enough space to accommodate it, is there enough room to put those policies in place in the hallways. There are concerns if we can do this effectively."

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