Judge: I'm disappointed Williamsville educators would "casually disregard concerns of parents"

Posted at 1:54 PM, Apr 23, 2021

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — State Supreme Court Judge Emilio Colaiacovo said he could issue a decision regarding the return to the classroom for five days of in-person learning early next week.

Friday, attorneys representing seven parents from the Williamsville Central School Districtargued middle and high school students should be able to return to the classroom for a full school week with a mask mandate and three feet of social distance.

Currently, New York State guidance requires middle and high schools in Erie County to maintain six feet of social distance because the area is classified as having a high COVID-19 transmission rate.

Attorneys representing Williamsville parents said students are suffering from mental health and educational issues because they only experience in-person learning two days per week. They referenced an Oxford study conducted in Massachusetts which found there is no difference between three and six feet of social distance regarding the spread of COVID-19.

Attorneys representing the Williamsville School District and state said they are following guidance put forth by the New York State Department of Health and CDC to protect students and staff. The attorneys said they could return to school five days a week if they could maintain three feet of social distance rather than six.

The representatives for the Williamsville School District said there is no basis to prioritize unfounded demands of some Williamsville parents for the whole school district. Judge Colaiacovo interrupted the district's attorney to say, "I was disappointed that educators would so casually disregard the concerns that are brought up by these parents."

Tuesday, Judge Colaiacovo will hear arguments regarding a full five-day a week return to the classroom in the Orchard Park Central School District. Judge Colaiacovo said he will issue a written decision on both the Williamsville and Orchard Park cases following the Tuesday hearing.