RCSD superintendent lays out reopening plan for 2021-22 school year

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In less than a month, the Rochester City School District will open its doors five days a week to in-person learning for the first time since March 2020.

District officials released its reopening plan last week after the New York State Department of Health decided it was not going to issue any rules or guidance on re-opening schools. Now, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) plans to issue reopening guidance for schools.

News10NBC talked with Rochester City School District’s Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small about the guidance she says she has yet to receive.

Myers-Small says the district’s reopening plan is based on the CDC’s guidelines for schools. The plan is in place, but that could change immediately if the COVID-19 pandemic gets worse.

On Sept. 8, the district will welcome all its students back for the new school year. Myers-Small says although her district’s plan is ready, there could be some changes from NYSED Commissioner Betty Rosa.

"Her letter certainly will give us some additional information that will be helpful, and if we need to quickly pivot some of our plans, I don’t think anything is going to be misaligned," Myers-Small said. "That would be wonderful."

RELATED: Local schools waiting on reopening guidance from NYSED

Since releasing the district’s plan last week, Myers-Small says she’s received lots of feedback from parents and other groups involved within the school system.

"Overwhelmingly, the different stakeholder groups indicated that they would like to return five days a week in-person to the Rochester City School District," Myers-Small said. "So, that really was our North Star and our guide point to get our scholars back but to make sure that we did that safely."

The superintendent says regardless of their vaccination status, all students and staff must wear a mask indoors. The district is also following the CDC’s recommendation of all students remaining at least 3 feet apart in classrooms.

"We’re practicable, so we’ve been working to see how we can appropriately space, so to the extent practicable, it will adhere to 3 feet, but it could be a shorter distance if there are more students in the classroom or area," Myers-Small said.

While most other districts will not offer any remote learning options, Rochester City Schools will only offer remote learning to children approved for a medical exemption.

District officials say it will provide more details about the upcoming school year to parents via Zoom on Saturday, Aug. 21, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Parents can click here to register.

The New York State Education Department expects to release its guidance based on information from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics this week. The Monroe County Department of Health will also release recommendations by Aug. 20.