Williamsville reopening plan leaves some parents frustrated and looking for answers — several community forums planned

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Williamsville Central School District is taking on a hybrid reopening plan, like many districts in Western New York

The plan includes a fully virtual option and hybrid option.

Many local parents say the reopening plan is vague and leaves them with questions about child care, face masks, and virtual learning.

“We don’t really have a lot of information about the hybrid plan, we don’t know what the virtual plan is going to look like, we don’t know what our kids are going to be doing Wednesday Thursday Friday, or those days that they’re not in school. That’s frustrating,” said Sophia Hejmanowski founder of Williamsville Parent & Community Education Connection. “Masks, kids who can’t wear masks, my son is one of them, he’s not going to be able to tolerate a mask for more than five seconds, are these kids exempted with a doctor’s note?”

For the full-time virtual option, students grades k through 6 will receive online instruction from Williamsville students, and students in grades 7 through 12 will be instructed online by BOCES teachers.

Some say, having BOCES teachers teach kids instead of Williamsville teachers is a problem as well.

“If you’re going to have virtual, it’s important that the Williamsville teachers are the ones teaching that to give a sense of consistency to the students,” said Philip Meyer, former school board member.

Michelle McKinstry is a parent in the district, she’s also on the committee that worked on the reopening plan.

“I know a lot of parents feel it’s very vague that they’re not getting the information that they want, but I would also say, Covid in general, throughout the country is pretty vague,” she said. “And, we’re not the only school district in the country doing this. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to us, other Western New York School Districts.”

McKinstry says the plan is fluid and it could change situation changes throughout the school year. 

“I know that it does not address hardly anything, anywhere close to what people want to address, but one of the things we learned sitting in the committee was the facts kept changing and it was impossible to anticipate every possible avenue, every possible situation,” said McKinstry. “Plus, you’re dealing with kids in kindergarten up to seniors in high school. That’s a huge age group to try and account for everything that can come up.”

Mckinstry says, it’s not just classes, but there are other changes that both parents and students need to be ready for.

“Last year, everybody was very upset because the seniors lost prom and graduation, this year we’re looking at the possibility that our seniors won’t have anything, they won’t have their sports, they won’t have homecoming, they won’t have any of the concerts, any of the shows, the musicals,” she said.

“So much of their lives are changing. And, as parents, we just have to keep reminding ourselves that, for everything that we’re feeling, our children are probably feeling it worse, the difference is that children are far more resilient than we’ve ever given them credit for. As a parent, we feel it deeply, because we don’t want our children to hurt, but I think we kind of need to take a step back and breathe and smile and tell them it’s going to be OK and truly believe it.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7qJV_fHzWQ

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