A transcript of Savannah's Speech follows:
Hi, my name is Savannah Hensley. Thank you for allowing me to speak. I also want to thank the Board members for volunteering their time and energy to oversee the district and the administrators and teachers for doing their best in such a rough time.
I am 13 years old and I am in 7th grade at Casey Middle School. I have 3 younger siblings and they’re all struggling with the effects of covid right now, like pretty much everybody. My siblings do not have learning disabilities, actually, they’re all pretty smart. My brother is now going to a private school because his grades and mental health were plummeting when we were in the midst of virtual school. He does not struggle normally in school, he is actually in 6th grade and taking 7th grade math and he skipped kindergarten too. My youngest sister goes to preschool 5 days a week, so guess who’s supervising her other sister while my mom takes her to preschool and my dad works. Me. My zoom starts at 8:55 and my sister’s starts at 9. You do the math. I’m not the only kid taking care of their siblings while their parent’s at work, school, or grocery shopping. Ask your students. How many of them are babysitting while in their zooms/meets? My grades have definitely suffered this year. And I have a better situation than most. I have internet at my house and I have a loving and supportive family.
Other states mask and distance when possible, but they do not adhere to the 6 foot rule because the benefit of school is huge and the harm of keeping kids in the virtual world is big.
Who is fighting for us to go to school everyday? It seems like nobody but our parents. Teachers and administrators tell our parents that they want us all back in school full time but I’m not seeing them fighting for us publicly. We need to see and hear your fighting for us. Call a press conference. The board should write a collective letter to legislators, Erie County Department of Health and the state. Dr. McKenna should group with other superintendents and demand change to the 6 ft rule. A representative of President Biden recently said that the President wants by day 100 of his presidency 1 day a week for kids in school. What about before then? What about the fall? What about the kids who aren’t showing up to classes?
We are not driving the pandemic. We are the casualties.
I chose to speak tonight. These are my words, and I am speaking them for every child in this district that isn’t old enough to.
I am asking you, adults in the room, Who will fight for us? As Dr. Seuss once said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to change, it’s not.”