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RCSD roundtable addresses reopening plans, fiscal realities district faces

Back to School: Facts First

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — “We’re up to our knees, up to our eyeballs trying to figure all this out,” says Rochester City Schools Superintendent Dr. Leslie-Myers Small on reopening plans for the district.

She, along with school board members joined an online forum Monday, hosted by Take It Down Planning Committee; Faith Community Alliance Coalition, to discuss ways forward for the possible physical reopening of schools come September.

Myers-Small says no matter what is decided, there is no pleasing everyone. The polls from parents are currently mixed. 

“It is very complicated, and that’s why we’re trying to give multiple options,” she says.

Those include added remote online choices, possible hybrid learning, and figuring out childcare for those parents who want to work, but don’t want to send their kids to school. Guidelines from the state, 145 pages, were issued on July 17. All New York school district’s plans on reopening are due to Albany on July 31st. 

“We are literally building the plane as we’re flying it,” says Myers-Small.

“This is a different set of circumstances,” says School Board President Van White.

He says there’s no perfect reopening plan. For a district already fighting a fiscal battle, he wants to talk about numbers. 

“We have to be honest about what it might cost to actually implement appropriate social distancing,” he says.

That includes re-purposing gymnasiums, cafeterias, and other large venues into classrooms. Buses would be another story. There would also be added costs related to PPE and extra sanitation measures. But the superintendent reminded all, everything depends on Governor Cuomo’s decision due between August 1st and 7th. She’s hoping that is made sooner rather than later.

“And that’s our frustration, just remember we can have a plan that everybody loves, which I know won’t happen, and the Governor can come in and say ‘we’re going fully remote’, and that’s what we’re going to have to do,” she says.

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