Akron High School students walk out of school protesting temporary switch to remote learning due to COVID outbreak


AKRON, N.Y. (WIVB) — Akron High School will temporarily shift to remote learning on Monday at the recommendation of the Erie County Health Department as more and more students are quarantined for COVID-19.

Akron Superintendent Patrick D. McCabe announced the news on Wednesday, during the district’s virtual board meeting, after more than two dozen students tested positive, most of them in the high school.

Some Akron high school students walked out Thursday morning protesting the announcement.

“The whole point of today is that we’re really against remote learning it fails us as students, the teachers are failing us,” said senior Ayana Dzialak.

She and other students said Thursday they’re unhappy other measures weren’t taken before moving to remote. She said they would be willing to try a hybrid, put up barriers, and even wear masks if it means staying in school.

“It’s not just the education aspect, it’s the social aspect, it’s the athletic aspect, it’s a lot of different things that play into it and it’s not as easy as putting us on Zooms and thinking we’re getting the same education because we don’t,” she said.

Superintendent McCabe made this decision after 30 COVID cases led to hundreds of students needing to quarantine. He said new quarantine rules from the county say when a school has two or more positive cases in a single room every child in that room is subject to a quarantine order.

He said Akron has 13 classrooms, some of them study halls with many kids, now subject to quarantine.

McCabe consulted the county health department which told him the spread is likely happening in school, and fast.

“[The County Health Department] has indicated that our district is likely an area of transmission whereas last year we didn’t have any confirmed transmission in the school,” McCabe said during the meeting Wednesday. “The county says there is ample evidence that transmission is happening at a rapid rate in our high school.”

McCabe was outside Thursday talking to parents and students during the walk-out.

“Some of the people that ultimately tested positive were symptomatic in school. Just thinking innocently that hey maybe it’s my seasonal allergy acting up,” he said Thursday. “So we’re asking families: if your child’s not feeling well, please take them home.”

He said most of the students were exposed in cafeterias, on buses, or during extracurricular activities. The district is looking into spacing students further apart in cafeterias.

Parent Doug Matusek said he wants to see more consistency.

“I notice other school districts around us that aren’t having these problems. I think the school board needs to get with those other districts and see how they’re handling it and why they’re not in the situation we are. The kids need to stay in school plain and simple,” he said.

It’s anticipated that high school students will return for in-person learning on Oct. 4. Homecoming Week for the school will be moved to Oct. 18 through 22.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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