Parents ask school districts for clarity on fall reopening plans

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With the Governor’s office announcing a hands-off approach from the state level on issuing mandates and guidance to reopening this fall how are parents reacting to the uncertainty of an official plan?  

The decision on how to fully reopen this school year is falling to how each district sees fit for their schools. While every parent we spoke with agrees in-person learning is the best option for their kids, they feel confused about how to do it safely without state health guidance.  

Jennifer Lopez has two kids in the Rochester City School District system, one vaccinated but the other not old enough. She is unsure how to send the young one back knowing he will not bring the virus home. 

“My son is asthmatic, and it really gets to the ones who are not vaccinated,” Lopez worried. “So, I know he is not vaccinated, and I would hate to bring it home to my kid and getting my kid sick. Even though I’m vaccinated I wear a mask 24 hours wherever I go.”  

Four weeks out from the school year, all counties in the Finger Lakes region average out to less than 50% of eligible students fully vaccinated. Parents hope districts must time to enact some plan to reopen safely and organized.  

“I think it’s a little bit too late,” Andrea Silva, a mother to an upcoming third-grader believes. “Kids are about to start, and everything takes a process for people to adapt to new rules and new stuff.”   

“I believe that everyone should-haves masks just to protect each other and social distance,” Lopez said. “Making sure everything is clean in accordance to be safe in a school.”  

Both Lopez and Silva stated they will send their kids to school with a mask and ask they spread out regardless of district policies. Earlier this week Monroe County School Superintendent Council President Bo Wright questioned what legal authority districts hold to enforce vaccine mandates before opening. 

“School districts have always operated under the assumption that if a mandate like that came forward it would come from the state and would be mandated in law,” Superintendent Wright explained. “I think there are significant questions regarding if school districts have the outright authority to make that type of determination.”  

In a statement, the State Department of Education called on the Department of Health to still issue guidance and partner with districts saying in part “The Circumstances enveloping the Executive Chamber this week should not prevent the department of health from the execution of its responsibilities to the public, has been promised by the Governor’s office for months.”  

In the past, both the State Department of Education and districts have hinted at their own policies still like recent CDC (Centers for Disease Control) Guidelines. Which recommend all students and staff vaccinated or not to still mask up indoors and practice social distancing. 

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