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Protesters on both sides clash over school reopening

Back to School: Facts First

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — A rally in on an I-490 overpass by Cobb’s Hill Park drew both sides of the reopening schools battle — one side chanting ‘not until safe’, the other saying ‘it’s time’. But for at least two protesters the rally lead to a  conversation about change.

Parents Teachers with The Rochester Organization of Rank and File Educators (RORE) organized a rally Monday.

The group wants school to remained closed and use distance learning until Monroe County sees no COVID-19 cases for 14 days. They also want guaranteed funding for safety measures and for schools to improve infrastructures like windows and HVAC systems to improve air exchange.

MORE | School reopening: How each district plans to navigate education safely during a pandemic

Teachers like Ashley Ladiges, who has a son in middle school and a member of RORE attended the rally. Without funding, Ladiges thinks schools will struggle to implement safety measures.

“I’m a high school teacher, a lot of my students are caregivers to older and younger family members. So if it’s spreading through the schools, they’re going to take it back to elders,” said Ashley Ladiges, Parent, teacher, Rochester Organization of Rank and File Educators.

ROC for educational freedom Counter Protesters stood on the other side. They believe in-person learning with safety precautions would help families and students who need the resources.

“There are a lot of demographics within the student population that just don’t do well with being at home whether they have learning disabilities or they don’t have a safe conducive place to learn,” said Christina Higley, parent, teacher, ROC for Educational Freedom.

At the rally two people from each side had a conversation. They found both sides want a plan that is safe for students, while looking out for families and educators.

“They’re talking about how do we best support our kids. and so is the other side, how do we best support our kids,” said Indy Maryin,  Education College Student.

“We don’t have the conversations that we need to really come up with the innovative creative solutions that are going to work  with us. And I’m glad that we had a chance to have that dialogue,” said Cassy Dunn, a parent.

RORE is sending a letter to Monroe County and Rochester City School District officials asking for a phased reopening plan for schools, and full funding for safety equipment.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s final decision regarding school reopening, is expected to come sometime this week

In his briefing on Monday, the governor said it was important to note that it’s not just a district decision, but that teachers, parents and students needed to be included in the ongoing discussion regarding reopening.

“This is not going to be the school district puts out a plan and by dictatorship that is the plan. You need the parents to be comfortable, you need the teachers to be comfortable, you need the children to show up at school and there’s going to have to be a discussion.”

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