The start of school will be delayed for students of an upstate New York district after 90 staffers took a leave of absence due to coronavirus, the superintendent said.

The setback affects students in grades 5-12 who elected to learn remotely full-time at the Williamsville Central School district outside Buffalo.

“Delaying the start of our fully remote online learning model is currently the best path forward,” Superintendent Dr. Scott G. Martzloff wrote in a Friday letter to the school community.

Martzloff said the amount of students who chose the fully remote learning model created a vacancy of 80 teachers in the district.

He also noted the staffers who took a leave of absence due to COVID-19, and cited 111 other staff members have resigned.

“We are working diligently to fill those positions to begin instruction in the fully remote online learning model for students in grades 5-12,” Martzloff wrote.

For students participating in the hybrid learning model, as well as fully remote students in grades K-4, school will begin as planned on Sept. 8, the superintendent said.

In a statement responding to the news, the Williamsville Teachers’ Association blasted Martzloff for linking teacher resignations to the delay.

The group found that of 105 of the so-called resignations, nearly half were actually retirements and just 28 of them were teaching staff. Eighteen of the 22 teachers who retired gave their notice before March 1, according to the association.

“So we are expected to believe that 4 teachers retiring and 6 teachers resigning in the past five months causes the District to be unable to provide remote learning?!? Even if 15 or 20 teachers took medical leave or child care leave, this doesn’t sound like a problem caused by the teachers.”

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