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Buffalo students say they are blocked from virtual learning because of vaccines

Posted at 5:51 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 04:13:30-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Two Buffalo parents said they are disappointed their children have been kicked out of remote classes because they did not meet the vaccination requirements.

“It's a set up for failure. No more no less,” said Tanecia Acoff, a mom.

Her daughter, Althea Mumford, was in the middle of her 6th grade English class when all of a sudden she was told by her teacher she would be removed.

"She had to kick us out... My teacher said she couldn't have the kids who haven't got their shot yet can't be on the meeting," Mumford said.

Acoff said she and her sister, Tonza Kelly, received no warning from the Buffalo Public School District that this would happen.

"It is different... virtual vs in person learning. You have no communication with the schools other than the teachers online," Kelly said.

"The teachers were just notified yesterday that this was going to happen. Today kids were being dismissed from virtual learning," Acoff said.

In a statement, the Buffalo Public School District said:
The district made robo calls with attached email documents that went to all homes every other week beginning in July. Information was also posted on the district website and social media. School nurses personally started calling homes on Sept. 8. Principals were involved, as well as multilingual, so that the messages were going out in all languages. We also worked with Central Registration with immunization packets and created an email address where updated records could be sent. Local pediatricians and clinics were alerted by our Medical Director. We do not have numbers of non-compliant students as of today.

The Buffalo School District said this situation is out of their hands. The law that requires vaccinations is created by the New York State Department of Health.

The Health Department sent 7 Eyewitness News this statement:

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, immunizations protect children and those in the community from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and mumps. Every student must get all of the required vaccinations unless they have a valid medical exemption. This applies to all students enrolled in school, regardless if they attend classes in person or remotely. Parents should talk to their children's doctor and work with their school's health services to make sure that all of their children’s immunizations are up-to-date.”

Acoff and Kelly said if their children were attending school in person, they would understand.

"It's definitely understandable because you have other children and students and staff... Their health and your child's health at risk," Kelly said.

Kelly said her daughters have appointments to get vaccinated in a month, which was the earliest appointment she could secure. They were made prior to the start of the school year.

"I feel like it's not fair. I definitely feel like we need a chance to get these kids their vaccines and put them back in school and come up with a different plan," Kelly said.

Kelly's daughter, Tonetta Williams, said she's worried about the month of school she may miss.

"It's going to be hard because I won't be caught up on work and stuff like that," Williams said.