BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Many school parents are growing frustrated over the future of the school year. 7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley says they want the governor to make a decision sooner than later.
“What's the point of bringing them back and putting them at risk,” declared Maggie VanCuran and Debbra Hadden, parents.
As of right now, schools are to remain closed until May 15th and Governor Cuomo hasn’t given any indication they will reopen at all this school year.
VanCuran has a son and daughter at Kenmore West High School and Hadden has a son at North Tonawanda High School.
They are health care providers and know first hand how dangerous COVID-19 is, joining us in a chat from their office in Amherst Thursday.
“How can we send our children back to a school where there is no social distancing, you can't scrub after ever kids been in the classroom,” stated Hadden and VanCuran.
Hadden and VanCuran said they fear students could be carriers of the virus and remain A-symptomatic.
“That’s the scary thing, somebody could be a carrier, and they don’t’ have symptoms and they can transmit this — that’s the scariest thing,” remarked Hadden.
VanCuran noted three days before the schools were shutdown, a Kenmore West student reportedly had the virus and her daughter sat next to her in class. She said returning children to school would only put families at risk once again.
But other school parents who rely on special education say they're struggling with home schooling.
“He’s been having a really rough time. There's a lot of melt downs,” explained Kristy Silwowski of Niagara Falls.
Silwowski says her 7-year-old son, with special needs attends the North Tonawanda Learning Center and is regressing in his behavior. Normally they're only off for two-weeks at a time.
“That school, it's more than just academics. It's therapies, social skills and so they can't just go until September with no school,” Silwowski said. “His occupational therapy is very hands on therapy.”
It is also a struggling staying inside the home. Silwowski said she has a small backyard that is flooded, making it tough for him to be outdoors.
“All the places I would normally take him to get the sensory play and get the energy out are all closed down,” Silwowski.
She realizes the closure is for everyones health and safety, but noted his school has small class sizes of about six students.
Catherine Collins of Buffalo, New York State Regent, represents Western New York. Collins tells 7 Eyewitness News schools should remain closed.
“I think the schools should stay closed until we're sure we have this virus under control,” Collins stated. But Collins says the decision to reopen or end the school year must ultimately come from the governor.
“He’s made some really good decisions on how to lock down this state. This is a huge state with a lot of people in it,” Collins noted.
“If you could talk to the governor and ask him that question — what would you ask him — what would you say to him right now?” Buckley asked Hadden and VanCuran. “Oh wow, don't put our children at risk because it also puts all of us at risk and let's just close the schools. Let's be done with it — everybody is at the same levels right now — all the school closed — pick up where where left off,” responded Hadden and VanCuran.
The New York State Department of Education responded to our ask about who makes the decision on keeping schools open or closed during the pandemic. They said “you’ll have to reach out to the Governor’s Office and NYC DOE.”