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Parents, teachers share fears as school reopenings near

Charles Molineaux
Updated: August 10, 2020 11:09 PM
Created: August 10, 2020 10:52 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As Rochester-area schools prepared to come out of coronavirus lockdown, some local teachers and parents ended up at odds over whether it was safe to go ahead.

"I have been living, anguish, anxiety. I am a parent myself,” Andrew Jordan, Co-President of Monroe I BOCES United Professionals, said.

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Jordan said he was afraid that a rush to open schools could ratchet up the spread of coronavirus after New York has made so much progress in slowing it down and quickly force schools to close down again.

"I fear of what could happen if we are asked to move, at a moment's notice, back to remote learning in just a couple of months,” he said.

Two new resolutions released Monday by the multiple unions in the Monroe County Federation of Teachers declared it was too soon, and that hundreds of school districts' reopening plans now being considered by the state don't cover enough details.

“What I would love to see is a pause,” explained Brian Ebertz, President of the Greece Teachers Association. "We just need a lot more specificity to guarantee that everything can be safe."

The federation is calling for schools to stick with distance learning for now, and especially to ramp up widespread testing for COVID-19. 

"We need to know if a cough is just the common cold or if it's something we need to be seriously concerned with,” Jordan said.

But in a new statement Monday, the parents' group ROC for Educational Freedom, says "time is up" and it's time to let kids get back to learning. 

The same group picketed last week saying that the evidence shows schools are "not" likely to become hotbeds for coronavirus.

"Right now, AAP,  the CDC, and numerous physicians not only here in Rochester but all over the country have said that it is indeed safe to open the schools,” ROC for Educational Freedom founder Christina Higley said. “So I want to take the advice of those professionals and go with that, not lead the decisions with fear."

Federation representatives said they have confidence in state and county health officials, and in school districts but that they want to work with them to push the opening of schools back. 

“We need to be confident in our buildings that we are safe and ready to move forward on day one,” Jordan said.


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