Parents in Penfield School District call for full reopening, 5 days of in-person learning per week


PENFIELD, N.Y (WROC) — Parents in the Penfield School District are calling for a full, five-day-a-week reopening of schools – and they’re not interested in waiting. The district is currently operating with a hybrid learning model and an option for fully remote.

They’re calling for this in the form of a petition, created by some parents with almost 500 signatures. Parents and students presented the petition to the school board on Tuesday night, followed by testimonies of why they believe hybrid learning isn’t working for them.

“As of today, 43 days, is how many days I have been taught in my first year of high school,” said one ninth grader.

“Kids are not getting the education they deserve,” said one sixth grader.

Nicole Felts is one of these voices calling for a change. She says the petition doesn’t just call for five days of in-person learning, but suggests the use of physical barriers to replace six foot distancing.

The petition reads, “Given the updated guidelines from the CDC as of Friday, February 12, 2021 wherein 6 feet of social distancing is suggested but not required in schools, especially those in lower transmission areas, we respectfully ask you to revisit the NYSED and NYSDOH guidelines as they stand and allow full time learning in this district for all students.”

Felts says her kids, and many others are missing out on a lot with only two days of in-person instruction: social interaction, grades, and the full-time learning experience she says her kids are entitled to.

“A huge part is the social emotional, they’re isolated, they’re not interacting with teachers and friends,” she said.

The district told News 8 earlier today they support the push to reopen – but there’s no updated guidance from the state on how to go about it.

The full statement reads:

The Penfield Central School District believes that students need to be back in school five
days a week. The District also believes that this must be done in a safe and planful
manner that is in accordance with guidance from the NYS Department of Health, the
Monroe County Department of Health and the NYS Education Department.

We have been continuously advocating at the county and state levels for specific
guidelines and metrics under which we can fully reopen, including reconsideration of
the 6ft. distancing rule. To date, we have not received updated guidance from the state.
As we shared with parents, the most recent CDC guidelines do give us hope that if we
reach the CDC Yellow Zone for COVID (defined as 10-49 new cases per 100,000 people
over 7 days), and the NYS DOH adopts the CDC guidelines, we could potentially reopen
sometime this school year.

We understand the frustration parents are feeling and are committed to working with
them toward the goal of fully reopening school. To that end, we will be forming advisory
committees, which will include parents, to review all available options for reopening
school by September, if not sooner. We look forward to working with all of our
stakeholders as we plan for a safe return to full-time in-person instruction

District Spokesperson

Felts says at the end of the day, the push is for the kids.

“We need to look at the kids, too often there’s a lot of finger pointing but no one is saying what do these kids need,” she said.

The parent petition also calls for a fully remote option to remain available for families who don’t desire a full in-person model.

News 8 reached out to a State Department of Health spokesperson for more clarity on guidance and how districts can go about reopening.

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