Monroe County education leader ‘optimistic’ on fully reopening schools before summer


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Kathy Graupman, President of the Monroe County Superintendent’s Council, discussed the Finger Lakes Reopening Schools Safely Task Force report Tuesday.

“I may be too optimistic but I want my kids back fourth quarter,” Graupman said. “I want all of them back I think it’d be a huge lift, but I think it would be a gigantic relief for kids, for families, for teachers eventually. There’s some stress involved there but if we could get everyone back for the fourth quarter and have some normalcy before we leave for the summer I think it would do wonders for everyone’s mental health.”

The Finger Lakes Reopening Schools Safely Task Force released an interim report sharing data collected through this past school year illustrating the little to no COVID-19 transmission in the local school districts.

Many parents in local school districts are calling on the state to issue new guidance for schools to reopen full-time, including an adjustment to the six-feet of distancing policy which has made it difficult for schools to navigate full in-person instruction.

“That is what we’re hoping for in terms of the New York State Department of Health, which is who we follow and who we’re bound to,” Graupman said. “In terms of regulation that would give us some relief or clear metrics if you meet the point where you don’t have to meet the six feet distancing.”

The superintendent of schools said the past year has been a difficult one for students, families, and educators.

“We have parents in all communities who want their kids back in school, and are struggling because of what we’re living through,” Graupman said. “Now is such a inconsistent time and the reason people are frustrated is we’re approaching a year and there are a lot of inconsistencies across the board.”

Even while there is an urgency for schools to fully reopen, the superintendent says maintaining educational practices as is has been a challenge in and of itself.

“Every single thing we’ve done to keep kids in school has been a huge effort and there’s a lot of work behind making sure we do that right,” Graupman said.

Even with the challenges the pandemic presents, the superintendent credits local districts and families for working together.

“I have talked to three different superintendents from other areas in New York state who have not had that same amount of collaboration in their area or region and things, from their perspective, felt pretty negative,” Graupman said. “There was a lot of finger pointing and I haven’t felt that here in our community.”

The superintendent said it’s important for schools to be ready for any potential changes in guidance from the state so there could be swift action.

“I know that we’ve really started to think about how can we open for the fourth quarter,” Graupman said. “I want to be ready so the minute there’s a metric given — I want be ready, I don’t want to hold that up.”

Watch the full briefing:

Finger Lakes Reopening Schools Safely Task Force Interim Report

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