RCSD considering going remote amid COVID-related staffing shortages

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester City School District is weighing whether or not to make the switch to remote learning as it experiences significant COVID-related staffing shortages and student absences. The decision could come as early as Wednesday morning, according to RCSD Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small.

At a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night, Dr. Myers-Small did not give a definitive answer on whether or not the district would go back to virtual learning or when exactly that call would be made, but she seems to think it’s a strong possibility amid the current surge in omicron COVID cases affecting students and staff.

Tuesday night around 5:30 p.m. the district warned parents that their students could be waiting up to two hours for a bus on Wednesday morning. The reason, the district says, is staffing shortages.

Myers-Small said Tuesday that more than 10% of bus drivers in the district are out sick, an unusually-high 40% of students were out on Monday, and 6-11% of school staff are out as well.

The superintendent delivered a message to parents Tuesday, asking them to alert the district if their child is in need of technology for at-home learning.

“Please, please, please make sure that if we make this shift that we need to know if your child does not have a Chromebook, or does not have a workable Chromebook,” said Myers-Small. “We need that information, because we need to make sure that if we make this shift they are able to still learn.”

In the past, the district has split up which students learn in-person and which are remote. There are still plenty of questions along those lines – like who would be impacted, when it would take effect, how long would it last, and would things like sports and extracurricular activities be affected?

If the district decides to make the switch back to virtual, there is a plan in place.

School on Wednesday went on as normal, in-person. Parents of RCSD students are advised to keep an eye on answering machines and voicemails for robocalls from the district alerting them to transportation delays. Anyone who is able to provide transportation to school for their child is encouraged to do so.