ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City School District is preparing for the possibility of switching to a remote learning model as a result of rising COVID-19 cases locally.
In a notice posted to the district’s website, and in a Twitter thread Tuesday afternoon, the district posted in part: “With positive COVID cases on the rise, we are asking all students to bring home their technology during the break. While no decision has been made to shift to remote learning, we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared.”
RCSD schools will be closed for the winter break beginning Friday December 24 with instruction set to resume on Monday, January 3. District officials said if there is a need to close any buildings and shift to remote learning, the district will notify parents immediately.
The district added in the thread “At this time, we anticipate returning in-person on January 3.”
The district is also calling families to deliver that information, and emailing students in grades 7-12.
District officials added that this week, each student will be given a COVID-19 rapid test kit to bring home with them, and they encouraged students to self-test before returning to school on January 3 should in-person instruction resume then.
“These are very uncertain times,” says Dr. Adam Urbanski, the Teachers Union President.
Urbanski says it seems everyone is having difficulty shaking off coronavirus and its mutations. “The newest variant is much more contagious than the prior ones,” he says.
He feels Omicron could prove problematic for the classroom. While youngsters he says don’t generally get as sick as adults, they can still be spreaders. Yet, the Monroe County Health Department did say COVID cases amongst school-aged kids have dropped the past 14 days. “Nobody knows. Things are in flux even as we speak,” he says.
Urbanski says this is good planning by the district but hopes physical learning will remain. “We all agree: Children learn best in-person, and children want to be in school.”
Urbanski says what matters above all, is the health and safety of students, teachers, and staff. The choice to make he says is easy. “We have to err on the side of caution. We can’t witness outbreaks,” he says.
Monroe County has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency since late last month due to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations. The county health department reported 330 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and the county is now averaging 442 new cases per day over the past seven days with a seven-day rolling average positivity rate of 7.5%.
After peaking during the week of November 29 through December 5, COVID-19 cases among school-aged children have decreased the past two weeks, according to the county health department.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.