Young Women’s College Prep going remote for 1 week due to COVID, staffing issues

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As many Rochester-area schools returned to classes Monday from the holiday break, one local school is keeping students out of the building for an extra week, citing mainly COVID and staffing issues.

With a staff of nearly 51 people, Young Women’s College Prep School Principal Barbara Zelazny said she and the board of trustees had to make a difficult decision over the break.

“With the staffing shortages and substitutes shortages, I just can’t operate the building with the level of integrity is required with that amount of people out,” Zelazny said.

COVID and staffing shortages are among some of the reasons why many with critical kid-facing roles are out.

“That includes people who are sick with COVID themselves and need to recover, or they are in an insolation quarantine situation or are caring for relative. On top of that, there’s folks with longer-term leave and medical leave,” she said.

The school had been operating in person at the beginning of the school year, but the principal said she was fully prepared to make the switch given the ongoing COVID situation, particularly with the omicron variant.

“I’ve had this plan since the summer and kept updating it in collaboration with teachers because I’ve been concerned about staffing for a long time,” Zelazny said. “It wasn’t until this big surge pushed us over the edge.”

Zelazny said although navigating COVID is tough, there is a bigger issue and goal to focus on.

“Staffing. That’s a big concern whether you’re talking about restaurant staff or teaching staff. That’s where I think we should be putting our minds on in terms of longer-term problem solving,” Zelazny said.

Young Women’s College Prep Charter School will go back to normal in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 10. Until then, all instruction will be through Zoom.