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School districts swaying on being able to remain open as COVID cases climb

CITY OF TONAWANDA & SINCLAIRVILLE, NY (WKBW) – School districts across the country are struggling to cope with rising COVID cases and a highly transmissible omicron variant.

As positive cases take students and teachers out of the classroom, they raise questions: How do districts decide to telecommute or cancel class together?

Students in North Tonawanda School District were taking lessons canceled, Monday, with Superintendent and Willita citing a bus driver shortage and multiple teachers with COVID as the cause.

Previous story: North Tonawanda Public Schools closed Monday due to absences due to COVID-19

7 News’ Pheben Kassahun spoke with local districts about what goes into their decisions when in-person learning isn’t possible, on Monday.

It’s the COVID tightrope for local school districts, as case numbers rise and more teachers increase the disease.

School districts in western New York balance their ability to remain open based on the number of adults in the school.

“When students are abroad, they can still link remotely, or send some work home, but when the faculty and staff are abroad, it’s quite different,” Chuck Lechner, principal of Cassadaga Valley Central School District, told Kassahun.

According to the latest case count reported on December 22, for Cassadaga Valley Central SchoolsAnd There were a total of 67 positive cases among teachers, students and staff: 8 teachers and 51 students.

“I know that two weeks ago, we had over 100 student absenteeisms, which is a lot for us, when you look at a school smaller than 1,000. We’ve been tracking that. It was higher than we would have liked it to be. It has been,” Lechner added. It can be managed at this point.”

School officials are working hard to try to return to distance learning, according to Leitchner.
“We don’t want to work remotely, but if we know it will only be for a day or two, we may choose to go remote, just to provide the kids with that connection, but it’s hard for families. While it’s easy for us to say we don’t have enough The people are here and we will close tomorrow, then families have to respond and find childcare and miss work,” the supervisor said.

However, Lichner added that a significant portion of COVID-related absences are due to contact tracing results.

“If we have absent employees. We have other employees who can provide coverage there. This works but it is not a long-term solution. Our biggest program has been through our transportation department. If we have a few drivers, it really affects our ability,” Lechner said. Get everyone here on time.”

The same goes for Tonawanda City School District.

We work with and support our families and employees as best we can to maintain a fully personalized educational program and an economical school program as well as a work environment for our employees,” said Tonawanda City School District Director, Dr. Timothy Oldenburg. “

According to the latest COVID case count reported on January 7, there were a total of 360 positive cases among teachers, students and staff: 46 teachers and 264 students tested positive.

Dr Oldenburg said: “Just as many areas agree and support personalized learning, the best advice for students is not only to receive instruction but the myriad other supports and important commitments that are part of the public school environment.”

Oldenburg added that if the state decides that in-person learning has become unsafe, the region is prepared to focus on distance learning.

To find each school’s COVID-19 report card in New York State, click here.

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