ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Thousands of students are getting out of school early on Thursday because of the Bills Thursday night game at Highmark Stadium. School leaders say they made the decision to end school early for safety reasons.

Orchard Park, Hamburg and Frontier Central School districts are letting students out early to make sure students get home safely before fans start arriving at the stadium to tailgate and attend the game.

Hamburg school superintendent Michael Cornell says the district chose to end school 20 minutes early over giving a half day, to help accommodate parents.

“Typically half days can be disruptive for families. Every school district has its own philosophy and practice around half days. We tend away from half days when we can because because it’s difficult for a family to accommodate that from a childcare perspective when they have young children so we thought is best to get as much of a day of learning as we can,” he said.

Rebecca Zdrogewski, who has children in the Frontier Central School district, has to pick up her one daughter from middle school at 10:30 a.m. and her other daughter from elementary school at 11:30 a.m. She works overnights as a nurse and says this does change up her schedule. She would normally be resting before work and now has to pick up her children. She says she understands letting students out early tomorrow for safety, but feels 10:30 a.m. is a little too early.

“It’s an 8 o’clock game. That’s a four hour difference from the end of the school day,” she said. “I can see a little early, but the fact that I’m picking them up four hours early, I mean it’s a lot and school is so limited as it is as far as the time their allotted to get days off.. but a Bills game?”

Another parent, Melody Nardone, has a child in the Orchard Park School District.

She says she’s happy with the district’s decision to let students out early tomorrow. She said she does not want to deal with all the gameday traffic and supports this solution.

“I think it’s great. The district made a great decision, to have an early dismissal,” she said. “As we all know, the Bills mafia gets crazy. The tailgating starts really early, even as early as 10 a.m. We don’t need inebriated drivers on the road to pregame.”

Local News

New on WIVB.com

Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.