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West Seneca student behind on vaccines blocked from remote learning, per NYS policy

Posted at 6:46 PM, Oct 06, 2020

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WKBW) — A senior at West Seneca East Senior High School was locked out of his online classes for being behind on immunizations. His father Randy Rodems said he would understand the policy if students were in school.

“Not to have your shot, and be locked out of a computer when you’re not even interacting with anyone else except your dogs, it makes no sense to me,” Rodems said.

In a statement to 7 Eyewitness News, West Seneca Superintendent Matthew Bystrak said the district has no choice but to follow the 2019 state law requiring all students to be immunized, pointing out there is no exception for remote learning.

"In 2019, New York State changed its laws to require all students to be immunized. While students are not currently attending school in District buildings, the law does not have an exception for remote learning and the District has no choice here but to follow the law."
Superintendent Matthew Bystrak

Rodems said he worked hard to get his son an appointment as quickly as possible, after initially being told by his doctor that an appointment wouldn't be available until October 31st. He said the doctor sent the complete vaccination to the school Monday afternoon, but his son was still locked out Tuesday.

“All they asked for was the doctor to fax over any paperwork stating that he got his shots, and we did that, we followed all the rules," he said. "They told us we needed to get the shot right away, well the only thing I ask was that they turn his computer back on right away.”

The family said the school told them to be patient and to restart the computer because it has to be processed by the nurse, district, and school tech. Two weeks ago, 7 Eyewitness news spoke to parents in the same position in Buffalo.

Tonza Kelly said her child is now back at school, and was able to get a vaccination scheduled in two days.

The NYS Department of Health said immunizations are needed to protect children now more than ever, regardless of whether they're learning in-person or from home.

“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.”
Jeffrey Hammond, Public Information Officer NYS Dept. of Health