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'I'm in jail': BPS mothers and caregivers voice concerns with district reopening plans

Maribel Irizarry is struggling with the mental toll this school year has had on her, as she balances her job with making sure the five kids in her charge stay on top of their remote learning.

“I kind of feel like sometimes I’m in jail. Literally speaking. I’m in jail,” she said.

Irizarry and members of the Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo Parent Association are voicing their concerns about the strain the school year has put on mothers and caregivers, and about feeling left out of having a say in Buffalo Public Schools' reopening plans.

Parent Association President Jessica Bauer Walker says the reopening process must include the input of parents, and communication can no longer be a one-way street.

“We’re here to say as mothers, nothing about us without us is for us,” she said. “We are, in addition to all the work we’re doing as mothers, as community health workers, as caregivers, going to multiple district meetings, sharing our ideas and then the district makes decisions that have nothing to do with what we’ve shared. It’s very frustrating.”

Bauer Walker mentions parents in some suburban districts have sued their school districts to get their kids back to school fulltime. She says that is not the path her group wants to take but wouldn’t rule it out completely if certain demands aren’t met.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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