RCSD details its plan for dealing with COVID-19 cases

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester City School District leaders are trying to reassure parents their kids are safe in school, even if they get reports of classmates catching COVID-19.

This year, officials say they’re being a lot more precise about who gets quarantined, and more and more teachers say they’re caught up with the COVID rules.

Their union, the Rochester Teachers Association (RTA), reported an avalanche of teachers has responded to district reminders that they face a deadline Friday.

The RCSD has told teachers that they must provide proof they’ve been vaccinated or that they’ve been tested for COVID and don’t have it or face disciplinary measures up to being fired.

Ten days ago the union said about 480 teachers still hadn’t done that.

Thursday it was about 150, and Friday it’s in the single digits and many of those few are out on leave anyway.

At the same time, the school system is fine-tuning its system for putting students in quarantine so if a student is found to have COVID, only those who’ve been in "close contact" will have to stay home instead of a whole class.

Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator Stacie Darbey said if news of a COVID case gets out, parents need to understand that.

"I think that people, with contact tracing, it sounds like they’re not sure,” Darbey said. “I think if there is a case in the school, and if they’re not directly contacted by either the district or the county department of health, and their child is not at a significant risk because they were not identified as a close contact. And it’s a… very… I get it."

The new standard is that "close contact" only applies to students who’ve been within six feet of someone, for more than 15 minutes, without masks.

That means being near an infected classmate in class should not be a problem, but it’s a different story for kids sitting together for lunch and the district is planning to work with lunch seating charts to make sure it can flag any kids at risk.