Some RCSD parents frustrated by switch to distance learning, others say it’s about time

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Some parents of Rochester students are raising the alarm over the school district abruptly switching to distance learning, while others, and some employees, say it’s about time.

The district revealed Tuesday its plans to switch to remote classes starting Thursday.

“It’s heartbreaking because we want to keep our kids as safe as possible and we’re trying to do that the best we can,” sighed Rochester teacher Kristen French.

French says it’s been tough dealing with attendance down to 60% so she joined other staffers and parents in a letter calling for a switch to remote school.

“There are families that are scared to send their kids to school and they are worried that we’re not protecting them,” she explained.

But Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small says this shift to distance learning is a matter of logistics, just too many teachers and other staff out sick, the OACES Adult Education Program and North Star academy will stay open and the current plan is for students to be back in school by Tuesday.

On Thursday, students were to be learning “asynchronously” meaning going over online materials. On Friday and Monday, they were to be learning “synchronously,” meaning going to online classes conducted by their teachers.

“This is something that we need to do temporarily,” Myers-Small said. “And the expectation, again, is that it will not be long.”

“This should’ve been happening at the beginning, not now but, I’m glad that they did try to do something. But we need more than these couple of days. This is just the beginning,” exclaimed Wilson High School worker, and mom of three Rochester students Marie Kinney.

She says three days remote provides neither safety nor the chance to adjust. As a custodian, she has to be in her school building but says the kids don’t have to be and shouldn’t be.

“Some kids do well online learning. Some kids do not,” she granted. “But, at this point, we’re risking our kids’ life and knowing the health and what’s going to happen with the COVID. This is probably the best option right now.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said the county is ready to offer all the help it can to get and keep kids in school.

“I saw these large districts across the country shutting down and going remote and I think that has to be avoided at all costs,” Bello said.

Myers-Small promised a reevaluation of the district’s resources on Monday, at which point she said the decision would be made to keep students learning remotely or bring them back into school on Tuesday.

Rochester isn’t the only district concerned about the rising cases. Brighton Central School District said Wednesday that it’s keeping students in school for now, but monitoring any changes.

It has 61 students with active cases of COVID-19 between its four schools, 36 of which are in the high school, and six students in quarantine.