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West Seneca parents, students protest to reopen schools

Some West Seneca students were closer to their classrooms Tuesday than they have been since buildings were closed for the COVID-19 lockdown. Parents and kids marched to protest an extended plan for getting classrooms re-opened.

Students will start returning to classes next month, although some won't be back until January. Parents voted last week to go to a hybrid model two full days a week when classes re-open.

Demonstrating parents outside West Seneca West High School were brought together by Parents Collaborating for In-Person Learning Group. They carried signs in the rain and marched around the building, waiting for an early evening school board work session.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Molly Dana has an eighth grader and a high school junior in West Seneca schools. Dana organized the protest, after seeing what her kids were going through.

"Every day I hear my eighth grader come out of his bedroom -- which is his makeshift classroom now --  and he says, 'I just want to be back in school, Mom.' And I have two boys that take full advantage of everything this wonderful school district has to offer, the arts, music and sports. I mean it's really hard to find motivation," Dana said.
Protest leaders said parents aren't being given enough voice in what will happen.

In the group was West Middle School seventh-grader Tony Sortino. Asked about studying from home, Sortino agreed it's not easy.

"Depending on the environment that I'm in, is going to be a different way that I react to things or I'm going to be reacting in different ways when I'm in different environments," Sortino said.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Dennis Dobiesz has a first grader and a pre-K student, both learning virtually in West Seneca schools. He described it as a bizarre situation, with his pre-K child learning to adjust to school on Zoom. Dobiesz said it's hard on his kids.

"They kind of get distracted a lot," he said. "It's not very learning when there's a TV in the background or a dog running around or anything else."

Another parent looked back nostalgically to her days at Kenmore West High School, with all her teen activities, and lamented her junior was missing all of that.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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