More than 100 people attended a town hall meeting, with one of the main focus areas being state mandates for children in school.
State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, hosted the town hall meeting at the Kiantone Volunteer Fire Department that also included state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, and County Executive PJ Wendel.
Most of the questions and comments involved state mandates for schools. Parents asked questions dealing with their children missing time from school because of quarantine rules, possible exposure to COVID-19 on school buses and why children aren’t tested for “natural immunity” to the virus before being forced not to attend class.
Not only are parents upset about the state’s school mandates, but teachers aren’t happy either. Three people — who said they worked in a school — said teachers are planning to walk out over state mandates, which includes teachers being tested for the virus. They asked Borrello what the state’s plan is when teachers walk out and there is no one left to educate the students.
“There is no plan,” Borrello told them as he stated state officials weren’t properly prepared and that is why there have been many issues in schools.
One parent said her children are having anxiety issues and are emotionally being harmed due to the mandatory mask mandate in school.
Borrello is one of a group of state elected officials who have filed a lawsuit over the mask mandates in school. In late August, the state Department of Health issued an emergency regulation that mandates masks to be worn inside schools for all students, staff, faculty and visitors that are two years or older inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status.
Borrello said the lawsuit is stating that the state Department of Health is outside its authority for issuing the universal mask mandate.
Another question Borrello addressed was why the vaccine and mask mandate issue isn’t considered a pro-life stance by Republicans and Conservatives. Borrello said for the same reason pro-choice advocates state, “My Body. My Choice.”
Before taking questions, each elected official started with opening remarks. One of the issues Borrello discussed was the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana use. He said no matter what side of the issue the public is on, residents should be upset about how state officials rolled out the new legislation.
He said in the last eight months state officials have done nothing to regulate the new law. He added that the legalization of recreational marijuana has only made the black market stronger, which means there will basically be no revenues from the legalized sale of cannabis.
Goodell discussed some of the criminal justice reform laws that have been implemented in the last two years. He said the “catch and release” criminal justice bail reform has led to 400 crimes no longer having bail. He added that recently Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed a new law called “less is more” that deals with parole reform.
“It’s appropriately named because we’re going to have less supervision and more crime,” he said.
Wendel addressed how the new state rule that mandates all people working inside a health care facility either be vaccinated or in the process of receiving a vaccine has created an unnecessary crisis. He said if teachers are allowed to be virus tested out of being mandated to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, health care workers should be allowed to do that as well.
“This crisis can be averted,” he said. “This is creating undue stress across the state.”
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