Beth Adams

Morning Edition Host

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester, where she was recognized for her work by the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the New York State Humane Society. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York to Miami, Florida.

Beth is active in the Rochester community, having volunteered for organizations including the Humane Society at Lollypop Farm, the Heart of Gold Children's Foundation, the Rochester Press Radio Club Children’s Charities, and the Rochester Broadway Theater League Education Committee.  She is an avid reader of historical fiction and a devoted animal lover. Beth is married to award-winning writer and author Scott Pitoniak. 

Ways to Connect

When Allison Roberts lost her job at the Jewish Community Center on March 16, she tried applying for unemployment benefits, but she couldn't get through by phone or online.

After weeks of this, the human resources representative from the JCC started helping her with some assistance from the office of a local member of Congress

Beth Adams / WXXI News

On a warm spring morning, Allison Roberts walked with bare feet to the art box she installed in front of her South Wedge home.

It looks like a little library, with glass panels on the door and a handle in the shape of a red bird.

"I finally had to put a little note up because people kept putting books it in. No! Only art supplies!” she said with a laugh.                          

Inside are colorful ribbons, paper, and other things people can use to create something.

Amy Rivera is a paraprofessional. For the past two years, she worked one-on-one with special education students in the Rochester City School District.

"I loved it," she said. "I have two kids of my own, and I have a child with special needs, so I know how to deal with kids like this."

But Rivera's position with the staffing company that employed her ended in mid-March when schools across Monroe County were closed to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

"It's been hard," she admitted.

Mary O'Brien

On March 12, just as the novel coronavirus starting showing up in local communities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to keep visitors out of nursing homes.

It was clear, even at that early stage, that senior citizens were at the greatest risk of serious illness and death if they contracted the virus.

As of this week, between 42% and 47% of the 250 people who have died from COVID-19 in Monroe County have been nursing home residents.

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When a patient is admitted to a hospital to be treated for COVID-19, one of the first healthcare professionals they will probably see is a respiratory therapist.

If the patient is sick enough to be admitted with the disease, he or she is likely having trouble breathing and it's a respiratory therapist's job to insert the tube that connects them to a ventilator.

That can be frightening.

"You can see it in their face and in their eyes," said Nicole Smallwood, a respiratory therapist at UR Medicine's Strong Memorial Hospital.

freeimages.com/Holger Selover-Stephan

The decision to close schools came suddenly nine weeks ago as the coronavirus started spreading in local communities, but the process of reopening will require a great deal of thought and planning.

In the final part of the WXXI News series, "Pandemic Academics," we explore the many challenges facing districts as they contemplate a return to the classroom.

This time of year, kids are usually counting the days until summer vacation, but Marin and Grace Papponetti can't wait to get back to school.

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In the last two days, we've heard from local students, parents, teachers, and administrators about how they are coping with distance learning since schools closed nine weeks ago to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Today, in the third part of the WXXI News series, "Pandemic Academics: Education During the Coronavirus Crisis,"  we look at the effect that all this time away from the classroom could have on students' academic progress.


Schools were abruptly closed in mid-March as the coronavirus crisis reached local communities. In the second part of a WXXI News series on the impacts of the pandemic on education, we look at how academic performance is being evaluated, with so many variables at play.


If the sudden shift to remote learning was an adjustment for students, then it was jarring for educators.

"It was like putting teachers on a very steep slide and just pushing them off," said Jennifer Pacatte, a social studies teacher at Brighton High School.

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The coronavirus crisis has disrupted daily life in countless ways. For schools, the last two months have been an unplanned experiment in remote learning. In the first part of a WXXI News series on the impacts of the pandemic on education, we explore how students' experiences differ based on their schools, teachers, and even their home environments.

Brennae Johnson lives with her mother and two siblings in what they describe as a tiny, two-bedroom apartment. 

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Melanie Rozek has been a physical therapist for about 10 years, but the last couple of months have been like no other in her career.

"It's so surreal. I've never experienced anything like this before," she said. "It's scary. You go through the gamut of emotions."

Rozek has been helping COVID-19 patients at Strong Memorial Hospital get their strength back. It can be a slow process.  She said it takes just seven days for people to start losing muscle mass when they are sick and immobilized.