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Return to school ‘No. 2 goal’ in Gowanda

GOWANDA — There is still no timeline for a return to in-person learning at Gowanda Central School.

Dr. Robert Anderson, superintendent, in a statement issued to the media stressed caution before brining students back to buildings. “Returning students to in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible has been and will continue to be the number two goal of reopening — with safety No. 1,” he said. “Throughout the school year, I have also repeatedly shared that this organization and individuals need to be prepared for pivoting between these three instructional models. It should be to no one’s surprise that discussions about bringing students back to in-person instruction are happening at any point of time.”

Anderson spoke to district residents via Facebook live on Thursday where a number of topics were shared. However, the return to buildings — for four- or five-day in-person instruction — was the item most often addressed. Anderson said that when a return does happen, early grade levels will be first into the buildings.

“I had hoped to have a target date, but there are barriers, nuances and other logistics that emerged that need solved before determining if returning more students is actually possible or, if so, to what extent,” he said. “If these issues can be solved — I am confident they will be, those directly impacted will be invited into the process to plan further specifics and prepare. “

Spacing concerns, Anderson said, are one of the major factors regarding in-person learning. He said the 6-foot distancing issue is limiting the district in making decisions. “So, returning more students to school is like solving a giant puzzle,” he said.

While other neighboring districts, including Silver Creek and Forestville, have students in school, Anderson said each school system has its own set of circumstances. These schools, which have smaller enrollment numbers than Gowanda, were built with extra space and organized differently than buildings at Gowanda.

“Comparing districts/schools is like comparing apples to oranges,” Anderson said. “However, I hope this provides some additional clarity and that we are on the backslope of this pandemic’s trajectory.”

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