ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Parents and students rallied Saturday morning in front of the Monroe County Department of Health for all schools to offer 5 full days of in-person learning.
They say the hybrid model is detrimental to students’ mental health. Other schools in the state have re-opened, and local parents and students think it’s time for Monroe County students to have the chance for a normal school schedule.
James Christensen, a 9th grader at Minerva DeLand School in Fairport, says he is not getting the quality of education he deserves through hybrid learning models.
“I care about my education and learning, and setting myself up to have a good career and this just isn’t doing that. It’s not giving me the education that I need from my classes,” said James Christensen, 9th grade Minerva DeLand School.
A majority of schools in Monroe County are offering hybrid models of instruction, with some days in-person and others online.
Christensen along with his sister Ruth Christensen says they have been depressed, anxious, and lonely. The siblings are advocating for students to head back to classrooms at this ‘Open Schools Monroe County’ protest.
“As of now I don’t think I have any class that’s on par with what we’re supposed to be learning. For example, in math we just got the part where midterms would usually be, and we’re way past when midterms usually are,” said James Christensen.
“There’s just not a lot of opportunities for you to talk to your teachers in person,” said Ruth Christensen, 7th grade Martha Brown Middle School.
The groups feel it is reasonable and safe to send kids back to school, saying that vaccines are here, while COVID-19 positivity rates and COVID-19 deaths are falling. They point out that some private schools offer full in-person learning and high-risk sports have been allowed to resume.
This group wants 5 full days of in-person instruction, and social distancing to be decreased from 6 feet to 3 feet, a guidance that has made it difficult for schools to navigate full in-person instruction.
“It’s extreme to keep kids out of school. In the rest of the country many school systems have been back full time for months,” said Nicole Sidhu, Head of Open Schools Monroe County. “It’s time for families who want to send their students to school five days full time to have that choice.”
The group believes it would be worth it to send students back 5 days a week now rather than waiting for next school year, because by sending students back they would have as much if not more days of in-person instruction than they’ve had all year.
Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County Public Health Commissioner has said he does support a full re-opening of schools, as long as it can be done safely, saying earlier this week we need to make sure the number new of COVID-19 cases stays below that CDC guidance so reopening can be considered.