RCSD points to safety as reason for remote learning, parents have mixed feelings

Back to School: Facts First

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — The Rochester City School District has decided to use a remote learning model exclusively for at least the first ten weeks of the school year, drawing mixed reactions from parents.

“All RCSD students will begin the school year in September under a remote learning model for the first ten weeks of the school year” according to a statement released by the district.

Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small added, “While this is not an easy decision to make, we have done so in close collaboration with school leaders and with the support of local health officials.”

The decision is different from the reopening plan submitted to the state and its drawing mixed reactions from parents.

Owen Baker has two kids in city schools and he’s been concerned about their safety since the pandemic began. He is on board with Rochester city schools doing remote learning for now.

“I’m excited I was hoping that they just waited a few weeks instead of rushing into it. All the schools from what I hear when they opened up in different states and counties, kids got sick and it’s just not worth the kid’s health,” said Owen Baker, who has children in sixth and fourth grades.

His children agree.

“I feel like it’s definitely for our safety,” said Baker’s son. “I think about online school. It’s not really that bad,” said Baker’s daughter.

Other parents are worried because they have to work. 

“I’m a parent. Now that parts gonna be tough cause what when they suppose to, when we suppose to be teaching them, when we still got to earn a living,”said Terrell Wilson who has children in high school and in first grade.

“At least we know now, so now that I know at least we can plan accordingly, you know what I’m saying. So I’m with it. I’m ready for the challenge,” said Troy Crawford, who has children in third grade and kindergarten.

“I really wanted them to go back to school. I thought it was important for them to have structure even if it was two days, kids need somewhere to go,” said Matilde Delgado who has grandchildren ages 7 and 5 years old.

MORE |RCSD to practice fully remote learning for first 10 weeks of the school year

There are some 29,000 students in the district and many of those would have attended school in-person in the district’s initial plan. Concerns over the district’s ability to handled an outbreak, testing capacity and implementing safety precautions lead to the change.

Teacher Union President Adam Urbanski said there’s not enough funding or time to make in person learning safe for kids.

“We feel your frustration we recognize that there are sacrifices and there are challenges. but we join you in a very important consideration and that is ‘keep my child safe’,” said Urbanski.

“I don’t think there’s a way to avoid making schools into a petri dish, a center for infection for spreading infection,” said Urbanski.

The CDC has suggested that racial minority groups are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the RCSD district says that, plus talking to parents, was a large factor behind this decision.

As required by state law, the district will begin hosting the first of five parent forums on Saturday, August 15 at 1 p.m.        

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