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Judge rejects union request to stop in-person instruction in city schools

WBFO file photo

State Supreme Court Justice Emilio Colaiacovo ruled against the Buffalo Teachers Federation in their legal bid to stop in-person instruction. While Buffalo school officials see the decision as an affirmation of their approach to reopening classrooms, BTF President Phil Rumore continues to argue schools aren't safe.

"One of the things the district asked their expert during the trial was just because there are rat feces or mice feces or a dead mouse could that cause the spread of the virus? Their expert said that he didn’t think that it could," Rumore said.

"But, you know something: We’re not just talking about the virus but all sorts of other diseases that could be spread because it isn’t safe."

District officials hailed the judge's view that state guidelines were followed as city schools reopened. In a statement, General Counsel Nathaniel Kuzma said the judge's order "reinforces the district’s cautious, systematic, and science-based approach to bringing students back" to the classroom.

While Rumore has no immediate plans to appeal, he's continuing to monitor the situation.

"There have been 22 students identified with COVID and 11 staff people, which means it’s still not safe in our schools," said Rumore who noted the judge has scheduled a March conference for both parties to review the dispute.

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.