Tonawanda City School moms “not excited” about hybrid reopen plan

"I want to go back because I miss everyone"
Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 18:14:50-04

CITY OF TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) — “I was really hoping for the kids to be back in five days a week,” said Alicia O’Donnell, school parent.

The Tonawanda City School District issued a hybrid plan for learning to start the new school year.

Alicia O’Donnell, school parent, Tonawanda City School District.

But some city of Tonawanda mothers say the reopen plan presents too many challenges for the schools and students.

"I’m definitely not excited about the hybrid plan for our family,” O’Donnell declared.

The district plan is calling for both face-to-face instruction two days a week and distance learning.

Outside Tonawanda City School District offices.

“It concerns me that the kids who are going to have challenges with some of their educational development and their social development with the restrictions they're being presented,” noted O’Donnell.

O’Donnell is the mother of three children, a five, seven and ten year old, who attend Fletcher and Mullen Elementary schools.

Her ten year old son, Aiden, attends Fletcher and he wants to go back full time.

10-year-old Aiden attends Fletcher Elementary.

“Do you want to go back to the classroom?" Buckley asked. “I’ve never wanted to go back this much. Before was kind of like — I don't want to go back, but now I want to go back because I miss everyone,” replied Aiden.

The moms gathered at a playground in Veterans Park in Tonawanda. They said staggering school days could actually be more dangerous.

Tonawanda City School families at Veterans Park, Tonawanda.

“It’s not eliminating children from being with other children — it’s actually making their exposure exponentially more,” remarked Michelle Nitsche, parent.

She has three kids attending Tonawanda City Schools and argues sending kids just a couple of days a week means parents will scramble to find more day care.

“You're making your pond larger and the more fish in the pond you are interacting with —so I think it's completely doing the opposite,” Nitsche explained. "Your pound is getting larger and there’s more fish going into it. If the same kids were in school every day with the same 19-other children, that’s mostly what they would they would be seeing."

Michelle Nitsche, parent, Tonawanda City School District.

The mothers say remote, home-schooling is a major challenge for families.

Tabitha Meara, also a city of Tonawanda parent, agrees and she's already a home school parent.

She teachers her daughter who is now a first grader.

Meara says it’s not a small task. She said it took time to acclimate her daughter to learning from home.

Tabitha Meara, city of Tonawanda parent.

“So it's not a switch and I think that was kind of communicated to a lot of people — ‘oh you switch on over’ and that's not really the truth — it takes some time,” Meara described. "And a parent, who are working and doing all the responsibilities — without having been prepared for it.”

Nitsche said she is very concerned for children missing out on the day-to-day interaction at school.

“That is where the most amount of growth for the child is going to happen, both academically, socially, emotionally — kids should be in school five days,” Nitsche said.

But for any city of Tonawanda parents who don't want to send their kids back, all remote learning would be provided, however parents must notify the district for enrollment by 4 p.m. Monday, August 17.

Outside Tonawanda High School.

7 Eyewitness News requested an interview with the superintendent of schools, Dr. Timothy Oldenburg.

Superintendent Oldenburg responded in an email that he was not available for comment Friday due to previous commitments.

The first day of classes for students for both remote and in-school learning will be September 2nd.