Rochester City School Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small introduced a hybrid plan Thursday for reopening district buildings. Last school year, all students finished the year learning remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A return-to-school plan from all districts was ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
During Thursday's school board meeting, Myers-Small said most students in 5th grade and above will continue distance learning. Under her plan, students in Pre-K through 4th grade will attend classes in person two days or three days a week and learn remotely the other days. The same arrangement would be available to students in special classes. Myers-Small said that parents can opt out if they wish.
"We are about choice for our students and their families choosing," said Myers-Small. "Students not in school for that hybrid model would fully participate in a distance learning model. "
Myers-Small says all students in specialized programs like special education could opt into a hybrid model as well.
"We felt collectively as a team, very strongly that it would be important, that if parents, caregivers chose to do that, that those students should have the option for a hybrid model.”
Myers-Small's presentation also offered a data based rationale for her decisionmaking. Her presentation featured responses from a survey sent to all students, staff and familes in July and she pointed to information from the Centers for Disease Control to inform her choices from a health vantage point.
"Early reports suggest the number of COVID-19 cases among children may vary by age and other factors," said the slide. "Adolescents aged 10-17 may be more likely to become infected with SARS-CoV2 than children younger than age 10, but adolescents do not appear to be at higher risk of developing severe illness per CDC guidance."
Myers-Small also said that no visitors would be allowed in buildings, except for parents. She expects to send the plan to the New York State Education Department Friday morning for approval.
The Rochester Teachers Association on Thursday voted unanimously to adopt a resolution calling on the city school district to postpone any in-person instruction until at least mid-November. The union statement said that parents and educators have legitimate health and safety concerns about being able to reopen for any in-school instruction in September.
Cuomo is expected to weigh in sometime next week on how he expects schools in the state to look like this fall.