‘Going back to remote learning is a last resort’ — superintendents dedicated to staying open

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — When it comes to schools, our local districts say they are and will continue to do everything possible to keep them open through this COVID surge.

“I know that families are worried about going back to remote learning and I think for all of us that’s going to be a last resort,” said President of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents Bo Wright.

Right now, millions of rapid testing kits are on the way to schools. The state is hoping that parents will test their kids as they send them back for in-person learning.

“At this point, there is no definitive date for the distribution of the kits however we’re going to try to get those into the hands of families right after the break to the extent possible,” Wright said.

The state is now officially recommending Test to Stay as well which most districts across the Finger Lakes have already implemented.

“People have really bought in, broadly speaking to Test to Stay,” said Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle. “we were one of the first counties across the state, certainly upstate, to actually pilot it with a few schools.”

Currently, unvaccinated kids exposed to someone with COVID-19 can test daily during their quarantine period in order to continue in-person learning but the updated guidance says, “the number of times the students have to test, they reference a minimum of at least three times which is different than what we’ve been doing prior to the break,” Wright explained.

Superintendents are working with their county health departments to get clarity from the state. Either way, the supplies needed to pull it off, shouldn’t be an issue as the state has promised continued deliveries.

The only big district, as News10NBC has been reporting, that is currently not doing Test to Stay is the Rochester City School District. On Tuesday, a spokeswoman told News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke the district was reconsidering but would need the help of the City of Rochester and Monroe County to pull it off.

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News10NBC reached out to County Executive Adam Bello, Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza and Mayor-Elect Malik Evans on Wednesday to see if they will be able to assist.

A spokesperson for the county said Bello will address the issue during the weekly COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, that the County, City and RCSD all agree that RCSD schools should implement test to stay, and they are all working on ways to overcome the obstacles currently keeping schools in the district from being able to do it.