Mother of son with special needs speaks out in full support of reopening NYS schools

Back to School

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On Friday, big news came out of Albany as Governor Andrew Cuomo announced all schools across New York State have the green light to reopen for in-person instruction this fall.

For Jenna Valerino, a mother of 5, hearing those words from the Governor was similar to waking up on Christmas morning.

“A huge relief because it’s a weight off my shoulders as a parent. It’s a weight off of my children’s shoulders, knowing they can go to school everyday,” Valerino explained.

Three of her five children are enrolled at the Liverpool Central School District, and home schooling during the pandemic has been a challenge, especially when it came to her 6-year-old son, Connor, who has autism.

Virtual learning for him is just not an option. Getting him to sit there in front of screen for X amount of hours for doing the type of work that he does specifically, just doesn’t work.

He gets special therapies. I’m not a teacher, I wasn’t meant to be teacher for a reason and I don’t know how to teach those specific areas of the things that he gets, speech, OT, PT, all of that.

Jenna Valerino, Mother

While Valerino does have some concerns about sending her kids back to school, like how they are going to wear PPE properly throughout the entire school day, sanitizing on a regular basis and getting students back on track with their studies, she says it’s time to see what works.

For me, it’s like if they’re 6 feet apart, they’re social distancing, they’re wearing their masks, they’re sanitizing, they’re cleaning schools down…I personally don’t see the harm in sending your kids to school.

Just that daily routine, that daily structure of getting up, going to school, being with their friends, being with their teachers, it’s just, it’s essential.

Jenna Valerino, Mother

Reopening schools continues to be a work in progress, but for families like Valerino’s this step is a big weight off their shoulders.

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