BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A rally to reopen schools was held Sunday on the steps of the Rath Building in downtown Buffalo. Most of the participants held crayon colored signs bigger than themselves.
"If casinos can be open, why can't schools?" William Schoenrock, a 4th grader at Fletcher Elementary School, said.
Students and parents gathered to stress the importance of in-person learning. The group spoke about research from a Roswell Park doctor and Orchard Park pediatrician that said the uptick in COVID-19 cases is unrelated to schools.
"I think it’s really important we all go to school because it’s really important we all are learning," Sydney Hensley, a 3rd grader at Dodge Elementary School, said.
Kids said virtual learning simply doesn't work.
"When you’re going on a screen all you’re really doing is watching and listening. You don’t really have any hands on experience," Luke Hensley, a 6th grader at Christian Central Academy, said.
"It’s kind of hard to keep my grades up all the time," William said.
"I have to go on my Zooms which isn’t really healthy. My mom had to get me special blue light glasses," Sydney said.
Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo released less restrictive COVID testing requirements for schools. These young demonstrators want their school districts to make a plan, this way they can immediately get back to in-person learning safely.
"Because otherwise you won’t be able to learn and you can’t exactly learn unless you’re in person," Luke said.
The Sweet Home School District is in the process of figuring out how to make in-person learning work, but there are kinks to work out.
"If we go by ourselves, then we are going to have staff members that have their own concerns with childcare. We have to be respectful," Sweet Home Superintendent Anthony Day said.
Carl Schwartz is prepared to take on school districts that are not proactive about in-person learning.
"If they're playing hard with getting our kids back to school, we're just going to sue them," Schwartz said.
Schwartz has filed lawsuits against different political and school leaders across New York State, all aimed at establishing in-person learning.
"We have plaintiffs, between 25,000 and 30,000 interested parents backing the lawsuit," Schwartz said.
After filing lawsuits downstate and upstate, he now moves to Western New York.
"Erie County is the next lawsuit we're going to file. We're going to file by the end of the week," Schwartz said.