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MiFi, laptops will be available to students, R-Centers open for support as RCSD goes remote only for first 10 weeks

Back to School: Facts First

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Central School District is now planning to practice fully remote learning for the first ten weeks of the upcoming school year. This includes students in grades K-12.

“We are confident that you are going to be incredibly successful with online learning,” said RCSD Superintendent Dr. Myers-Small in a message to students at a Friday press conference. “We are here for you and we want to keep you both safe and healthy.”

The Rochester Teacher’s Association called for a delay to in-person instruction for the first 10 weeks of school, and RCSD agreed to the request on certain conditions.

“We need all staff focused on instruction. which simply cannot be the case if our staff are preoccupied with taking temperatures and sanitation, keeping students appropriately distanced and contact tracing if there are positive cases,” Myers-Small said on Friday.

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In an email from RTA President Adam Urbanski, the agreement outlined the changes to be made in order to ensure the quality of education of all students through remote learning.

This includes RTA surveys that focus on individual teachers’ technology and remote learning readiness, rescheduling superintendent conference days to September 9 through 11 in order to focus on remote-learning instruction and environment, virtual office hours and more.

“I have to be very frank, this was not an easy decision to make,” Myers-Small said. “The new aspect of our reopening plan is that Pre-K through four, and specialized services will be remote as well. This will occur the first 10 weeks of school with regular assessment of our progress towards reopening.”

Rochester is one of the biggest school districts in the state, and the first of the Big Five districts to opt for the all-remote start of the school year.

“As I’ve said in the past the Rochester City School District is unique,” Myers-Small said. “The size of our district alone is one of the contributing actors in making this decision. I have to consider and be responsible for the health and safety of over 25,000 students. This is a good decision for the Rochester City School districts, its students, families, and staff.”

According to the superintendent, every student will have access to a laptop and a MiFi device for online learning.

“Each day, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, will start with a social emotional check by the teacher — this is pr-k through 12th grade and these interactions will be 15 to 20 minutes,” Myers-Small said. This check in will allow the faculty to check in with students and make sure they are tuning in, keeping up with their classmates.

The superintendent also said there will be professional development opportunities for teachers and staff to fine tune their remote teaching skills. Twelve recreation centers in the community will also be open for space for day care. Nine of those centers will be holding learning labs for students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade. There will be two separate sessions, one from 8 a.m. through 10 a.m. and the other from 10 a.m. through 12 p.m. At the learning labs, students can get breakfast and have access to RCSD personnel who can assist with assignments. Those centers are as follows:

  • Adams Street R-Center, 85 Adams Street
  • Avenue D R-Center, 200 Avenue D
  • Carter Street R-Center, 500 Carter Street
  • Tyshaun Cauldwell R-Center, 524 Campbell St.
  • Edgerton R-Center, 41 Backus St.
  • Frederick Douglass R-Center, 999 South Ave.
  • David F. Gantt R-Center, 700 North St.
  • Trenton and Pamela Jackson R-Center, 485 N. Clinton Ave.
  • Thomas P. Ryan R-Center, 530 Webster Ave.

200 SUNY Brockport student teachers and interns from the school of education will be helping teachers in their virtual classrooms. This is a continuation of a partnership that’s been doing on between the RCSD and SUNY Brockport for years.

“I think our best bench mark is to look at other school districts who have opened to see what’s happen.” Myers-Small said during this first 10 weeks, she will be looking at other districts and how their hybrid plans have unfolded. During that time, her team will make a decision on whether RCSD is able to move into a hybrid model after the first 10 weeks, and eventually, fully reopen.

MORE | Every school district reopening plan in the 9-county Rochester & Finger Lakes region

You can read the full agreement here:

Both RTA President Urbanski and RCSD Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small signed the agreement Wednesday.

Just last week, RCSD planned on a using a hybrid-learning model.

In an interview with News 8, Urbanski attributed the change to Dr. Myers-Small’s open mind.

“What has changed is that the superintendent of the Rochester Central School District proved that she has an open mind to doing the right thing by our students,” said Urbanski. “And so after hearing the collective wisdom of teachers and parents, she determined that the best way to educate our children, at least for the inital ten weeks of the next school year is to do it all virtually. And we fully agree, and we respect her for her decision and for her leadership, and we are determined to provide a good education for all our students while also keeping them safe, the educators safe, and also the families of our students and our educators safe.”

RCSD released a statement on their website on Thursday. It read in part:

“While this is not an easy decision to make, we have decided that all Rochester students will begin the school year in September under a remote learning model and not the hybrid model we originally proposed. We carefully considered the Governor’s expectations around testing and contact tracing, particularly the additional planning with the Health Department that will be needed, and the input we received from the Rochester community and the experiences of other urban districts around the country. “

You can read the full statement here.

Full press conference:

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