Williamsville to begin phasing students back in classrooms in October

District leaders to meet with students on Wednesday afternoon
Williamsville North High School. August 24, 2020
Williamsville North High School. August 24, 2020 Photo credit WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WBEN) - Students between fifth and twelfth grade at Williamsville Schools will return to a classroom in a hybrid model beginning in the middle of October, according to a memo that was sent to teachers and staff on Wednesday.

Beginning October 13, students between fifth and sixth grade will return the classroom. Seventh and eighth graders will return to the hybrid model on October 19. All high school students are eligible to return to the classroom on October 26.

Acting Superintendent Dr. John McKenna will formally announced the timeline on Wednesday morning. He is scheduled to meet with students late-Wednesday afternoon.

"Our committee determined a phased-in model was critical to help us support our staff of approximately 700 teachers with the transition to the model," Dr. McKenna said in the video. "It was also necessary to ensure our technology needs were thoroughly met to effectively deliver a quality model for our students and staff. Delivering a quality model was essential to our committee."

Students will keep their normal class schedules. Those who are learning at home will have their classes live streamed at the same time as students who are in the building. Teachers will have discretion on how to implement synchronous learning.

Parents at the district appear to be split on the timeline. Those in favor of it like the younger students getting back to the classroom sooner but others want high school students back sooner.

Charlie Maclay, a concerned parent, hopes the concerns of teachers were taken into consideration.

“If the timeline was a function of discussions with the teachers- and I’m talking the rank-and-file teachers- then we respect their need and their input on getting up to speed with new technology and those issues,” Maclay said. “However, if this was consistent with previous behavior by the district and it was mandated to the teachers and handed to them – which is some of the feedback that we are getting – then we are dismayed again with the way the district is handling this.”

Maclay said getting kids back to school earlier was a goal and they’re pleased that there’s now a plan. However, he’s still upset about the lack of outreach by the district to parents like him.