As school districts prepare for in-person learning, remote options vary

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As local school districts start to release reopening plans for the upcoming school year, questions remain about remote learning. 

According to New York State Department of Education’s new guidelines that were released Thursday, it’s up to school districts if they want to provide remote learning. 

Most districts are planning to reopen five days a week for in-person learning, but this isn’t something all parents feel comfortable with yet. 

“We personally just don’t feel comfortable sending our kids to school until they’re vaccinated,” Lauren Dewater’s said. She’s a mother of three in the Brighton Central School District. 

The district says it doesn’t have plans for remote learning yet, so Dewaters is turning to homeschooling. 

“It’s definitely going to have a pretty big impact on us, I’m going to have to kind of switch around my work schedule,” Dewaters said. “Basically, I’m going to create a curriculum, you know, based upon what the kids need, and there are some awesome resources, thankfully, that our school district provides on the on our website.”

Dewaters’ children have medical conditions, making them immunocompromised and more suseptable to disease. Her three kids are also under the age of 12, meaning they can’t get vaccinated yet. 

“I’ve worked in schools and kids are really, really great, and they’re really resilient. But at the same time, you know with anything, they’re forgetful,” Dewaters said. “They’ll forget to take their mask off, or they’ll itch their eyeball, and then you know, it’s their nose, and then that’s all it takes, unfortunately.”

Some districts, like the Rochester City School District and Greece Central School District, are allowing students to opt into virtual learning for medical reasons. Penfield School District says they don’t have a plan for remote learning at this point.

However, there are parents without immunocompromised kids who are hesitant to send their children back to the classroom.

Susan Dantoni helps run an online Facebook group for homeschoolers in the area. She says the page is exploding with requests to join. 

“There’s a lot of people that are fearful that you know…they have grandparents at home, they have medically fragile children, that it’s you know, for them, it’s very scary to possibly go back to school,” Dantoni said. 

And that’s just one of many reasons more people have been interested in homeschooling.

“People are joining because, ‘I’m pulling my kid from school, and I want to have more control over what’s going on or, or my school’s mandating masks and I don’t want my kids wear masks. Well, they’re mandating this. And I don’t want that.’ So I think it’s really there’s just so much confusion, and people are just seeking more control over over their kids education,” Dantoni said. 

With the delta variant and cases rising among kids, Dewaters hopes more people get vaccinated to protect children who can’t. 

“I think the only thing we could do is to get vaccinated. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that here, but I know a lot of people who aren’t. And I just wish people understood that these vaccines were not meant to, you know, completely keep us from getting sick. They were meant to keep us from going in the hospital,” Dewaters said. 

News 8 reached out to many local school districts for their remote learning plans. Many say they are still figuring out their guidelines for the upcoming year. 

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