RTA president thinks RCSD's phased approach to in-person learning is a step forward

Raven Brown
Updated: November 20, 2020 05:44 PM
Created: November 20, 2020 03:55 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC is learning more about the Rochester City School District's plan to phase in in-person learning starting early next year.    

President of Rochester Teachers Association Adam Urbanski is praising the Rochester City School District for their phased approach to get students back in the classroom. 

"I have to say that the plan on its face value is a very reasonable plan,” Urbanski said. "We look forward to cooperating with the superintendent and implementing it. We look forward to the day that all students will be back in school safely with their teachers."

Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small detailed the plan for the district's 25,000 students who haven't seen a classroom since last March. 

In phase one of the plan, students in specialized programs in kindergarten through 12th grade will head back to school in a hybrid learning environment on Jan. 4. Phase two will start in February, where general and special education students in pre-K through 6th grade can attend in-person, and students in 7th through 12th grade would stay home. Phase three will let those students join the rest in a hybrid model. 

“Being a superintendent previously for almost eight years, one of the things I value tremendously was the connection that I made with students,” Myers-Small said. “Getting into buildings and to school and reading to them, riding the school bus with them, coming in and out of their classrooms.”

Parts of Monroe County, including Rochester, are in a Yellow Zone micro-cluster, which places new temporary restrictions on businesses and social activities due to a spike of COVID-19 cases. Myers-Small is hopeful to get students in the classroom but makes it clear that if COVID-19 cases continue to go up, adjustments will need to be made. 

“I know that Dr. [Michael] Mendoza has been petitioning that if we go to orange [zone] that schools remain open, but there are more intensive requirements and recommendations if Monroe County goes to orange or red zone,” Myers-Small said. 

Urbanski said as long as the district is staffed with enough PPE, this could be a step in the right direction in trying to get some sense of normalcy that has been gone for more than eight months. 

Parents will have the choice to keep their kids in remote learning. Myers-Small said a survey will be sent to parents, and the responses will determine how much staffing they will have in school.

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