No vaccine means no remote or in-person learning and counseling

Posted at 11:19 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 23:21:10-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — No vaccine, no school. As of September 22nd, students who did not have all of their immunizations could not attend class in person or remote. But it’s more than that. No vaccine also means no counseling.

“It’s obviously going to be negatively impacting them. It’s very simple. When we talk about therapy and we talk about any type of service or support, you provide as much as you can. Then you systematically decrease it until they don’t need it anymore,” Bryan Rotella, administrator and school psychologist at Niagara Falls High School.

Without a vaccine, that support is quickly stripped away. But Niagara Falls Superintendent Mark Laurrie said that’s not going to happen on his watch.

“That’s not something that I’m willing to do to students. What we are willing to do is hold parents accountable by having them schedule an appointment,” Laurrie said.

Laurrie decided the Niagara Falls City School District would accept appointment cards, so students who do not have vaccines yet can continue to learn from home. The district follows up to find out of the child received a vaccine.

“We just have to move forward and help these kids the best we can,” Rotella said.

“Because a child’s mental health and consistency with school is more important than anything right now. I don’t feel there’s any risk in saying that because kids are on remote learning and we have appointment cards that we’ll follow up with to make sure the parent does take their child to get their immunization,” Laurrie said.

Buffalo Public Schools will not be accepting appointment cards. A representative for the district said in a statement:

“We have been informing parents of the deadline for immunization as required by the state, per public health law, since mid July in every form of communication available to us. This includes surface mail, repeated robo calls and emails. We are bound by law to cease instruction, with threat of fines, to adhere to state requirements. Though the number of students being immunized daily is rising, we are unable to grant waivers to those who are out of compliance, regardless of our current learning model.”