Parents, teachers union not thrilled with RCSD plan to shift some students back to in-person learning

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — RCSD sparked a lot of reactions from the school community Monday when it announced it would soon be bringing some classes back in session in-person, but not all of them; but one of the strongest might be from the Rochester Teachers Association.

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The union president, Adam Urbanski, says simply put, the superintendent’s decision makes no rhyme or reason. Urbanski believes there is only one clear-cut choice that benefits both students and staff.

“Rather than cause of all this chaos and confusion, I think that we should err on the side of caution and we should make our children’s safety and health – and their teacher’s – primary,” Urbankski said. “We should not go back to in-person learning as long as the surge continues. We need to listen to science community and medical experts.”

The union president says the health of staff goes beyond COVID concerns, too.

“Even the remote learning is done very badly because the superintendent is requiring teachers to come into school to do remote teaching,” Urbanski explained. “Some schools are freezing. They have no heat. Teachers are teaching from their cars.”

While he recognizes this will cause some disruption over the next week for RCSD families, he still thinks remote learning is the best way to go.

“Remote learning is a huge burden for families. It makes it more difficult to arrange for supervision of their children, to be able to go and do their work – all of that is very disruptive. But what’s even worse, is to put your child’s health at risk, Urbanski said.

On the family end, it is a lot of mixed emotions from parents. They recognize the difficulty in making this decision, but some say it is creating chaos just like the early days of virtual learning two years ago.

“Many of our families have children who go to different schools and if one is in person and the other is remote, it just creates a lot of chaos for families and last-minute child care decisions,” said Amy Maloy, an RCSD parent and school board member.

Maloy is like many other RCSD families, trying to juggle multiple scenarios.

“We’re creating more chaos in the district by having some remote, some in person, and I don’t know if that’s going to meet our end goal," Maloy said. "What’s the goal? To stop a surge? Get lower COVID numbers? Get kids in the classroom?”

The parent and school board member is having flashbacks to March 2020.

“I feel most parents are going to feel confused by what came out. We’re already in a terrible situation, and I just want families to feel some sort of stability” Maloy added.

Dan Delahanty is in an even more difficult situation. The history teacher at East High School is going back to in-person learning, while his two kids, a high schooler and fourth-grader both attend World of Inquiry. That is one of the schools that must stay remote until Jan. 18.

“Everyone’s doing their best. I see that as a parent, and I see that as a teacher,” Delehanty said.

The teacher has no concerns about going back, just concerns about what type of impact continued remote teaching would have.

“Zoom has made it difficult now more than ever. We have to focus on the relationship piece to keep kids connected to the school. I’m really glad the district maintained extracurricular activities for high school students. That is key to maintaining motivation, and our kids do better when they are connected. Sports motivates kids to become part of their school community,” Delehanty added.

Delehanty said for the next week, there will have to be a lot of flexibility between him and his family.

“It’s really a test of endurance, I think. It’s really important for us to find ways to maintain hope. I told my kids ‘Monday’ and they thought about it and said ‘ok, I can wait until Monday,’” Delehanty said.