Parents voice concerns over Buffalo School District’s reopening plans

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Parents in Western New York continue to anticipate what the school year will look like for their kids during the pandemic. The Buffalo Public School District released a draft of its reopening plans, and parents are reacting to those guidelines. 

The Buffalo Public School District outlined three models, in-person, hybrid or all virtual learning. Two parents we talked to say in person is crucial for some students to get back on track and are urging parents who know if that’s best for their kid, to speak up. 

“Some children need to be in school every day and there needs to be a conversation around that because the learning loss that’s happened because essentially students haven’t been in school for 6 months,” said Duncan Kirkwood parent of students in Buffalo Public Schools.

The district is aiming for some sort of hybrid model, where students alternate between learning at home and inside the classroom. Nia Badger, who has three children who attend Buffalo Public Schools says that might not work for every parent and student. 

“We definitely have to consider those students who may not have a parent at home, a parent who has to work, who has to be on the front lines, a nurse a doctor, a police officer fireman, those people who have to be outside of the home. Is that child going to fall through the wayside?”

The nearly 100 page document also says schools would not reopen on September 8 if the state approves the district’s plan and it calls for a four-phase reopening to begin first with giving teachers and staff time to train and set up classrooms.

Buffalo Teacher’s Federation President Phil Rumore says he has some concerns with that part. 

“What are the details? How are you going to do the training? What is the training going to be, how is it going to be done?

Badger saw no problem with that part of the guidelines and says teachers need to be ready for whichever learning model the school district chooses.

“Really what they have to prepare for is interactions, interaction with children you know I think about my 6 year-old Joey, there’s plenty of times he and his friends exchange toys, he may come home with their hat, a pair of their gloves. That’s exactly what they need to prepare for and I don’t think you can prepare for that.”

Badger and parent Duncan Kirkwood are however concerned that not enough parents are stepping up to make sure their kids receive proper education. They say input from other parents when it comes to a schools reopening plan is needed more than ever and when schools ask for input, respond. 

“These are our kids, these are our children and we have to take full responsibility as parents. We can’t let other people make decisions that’s in their interest and not our children’s interest.”

The district is also planning to ask the state for several waivers for the upcoming school year to exempt having to provide the 180 days of instruction required by the state. The schools plan still needs to be approved by governor Andrew Cuomo. He’s expected to make that decision by this week. 

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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