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Judge calls for full in-person return to school for Orchard Park and Williamsville

  Williamsville and Orchard Park parents were in court Friday seeking a ruling that declares the hybrid/remote learning model used by those school districts to be illegal. Judge Colaiacovo, who is hearing the case, has ordered a temporary full reopening for both districts.


<--break->Parents participating in the lawsuit believe their students should be in school, in person, five days a week. As of right now, they are on track to get just that. As long as the transmission rates are at or close to 100 per 1000 people, Judge Colaiacovo says both districts will return to in person full time instruction by May 17.

Colaiacovo said Friday afternoon the court reserves the right to modify the order upon the conclusion of the court case, which will resume next Monday morning. In explaining his decision, he told both parties “If we trust the science, and trust these numbers, we will be where we need to do this.”

Dr. Tracy Hoeg, who is a certified interventional sports and spine medicine specialist, was called upon earlier Friday morning to discuss studies that address the safety of students returning to school. She testified there was minimal difference between three feet versus six feet.

When giving an opinion, Hoeg said it was more likely to contract the disease in the community than at school. She emphasized it would be important to still keep children home who are sick, but added that the rate of spread between asymptomatic students is low when students wear masks.

In court documents, the Orchard Park district has stated they would have to “completely revamp” its instruction models and faculty assignments if they were forced to differ their guidelines from the state.

Both parents and school district representatives will find themselves in court again, 9:30 a.m.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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