WXXI AM News

education

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New York will decide if schools will reopen this fall in the first week of August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, and tasked districts across the state with coming up with plans in the event that they’re allowed to resume in-person learning.

Cuomo also responded to comments from President Donald Trump, who has publicly pressured governors to reopen schools this fall despite a rise in coronavirus cases nationwide.

What do pediatricians think about kids going back to school in the fall? The American Academy of Pediatrics made headlines last week with a call to put kids back in physical classrooms, if at all possible. Dr. Sean O'Leary helped write the guidelines, and he told the New York Times that we've learned enough since March to make adjustments to school environments: "Schools can do a lot of things to really make the environment as safe as possible."

We talk to local doctors about how best to support kids this fall, no matter what decisions the state or districts make.

  • Dr. Stephen Cook, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and medical director at the New York State Department of Health
  • Dr. Elizabeth Murray, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong
  • Dr. David Topa, M.D., pediatrician at Pittsford Pediatric Associates

Students and parents across the country are asking whether K-12 schools will reopen in the fall. Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t made a decision about New York State yet, but local districts are already planning what classrooms might look like if they get the green light.

This hour, we’re joined by three local superintendents who discuss their possible plans and the conversations they are having. Our guests:

  • Casey Kosiorek, superintendent of Hilton Central School District
  • Gene Mancuso, superintendent of Honeoye Falls-Lima Central School District
  • Aaron Johnson, superintendent of West Irondequoit Central School District

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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.

The Rochester City School District has a new superintendent. On Monday, the district named Lesli Myers-Small its new leader. Her appointment follows the unexpected and abrupt resignation of Terry Dade. Myers-Small was the superintendent of Brockport Central Schools for seven years, and most recently served as assistant commissioner of school reform and innovation for the New York State Department of Education. She's the first woman of color to lead the RCSD outside of an interim role.

This hour, Myers-Small joins us to discuss her priorities, her goals for implementing the new budget, and how she plans to mitigate the district's challenges while best serving its students. Our guest: 

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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. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said that the pandemic should change the way we approach schools. He said that with technology, and our new experience with remote learning, some things should not go back to the way they were before. The governor is not suggesting that all learning happen remotely; he wants to take the good aspects of remote learning and apply them going forward.

But many parents and teachers are apprehensive about that; they are struggling to find much good to take from this experience. We discuss what the pandemic has taught us about remote learning, engaging with students, the use of technology, and more. Our guests:

  • John Baynes, English teacher at Our Lady of Mercy, and Monroe County Legislator
  • Fiona Connolly, 12th grade student at Our Lady of Mercy
  • Beth Larter, school librarian at Walt Disney Elementary School in Gates Chili
  • Susan Kavanagh, parent

When schools closed in March and teachers and students were pushed to online learning settings, the transition proved difficult for students who lack internet access and technology. The digital divide continues to be a concern, and the team at ROC the Future has analyzed where the gaps are and the impact they're having on students.

The Rochester Area Community Foundation has created a special funding opportunity -- the COVID Education Fund -- for school districts and other educational organizations in the region to support the purchase of technology and internet access for students who don't have it.

This hour, we discuss the digital divide and how it's affecting local students. Our guests:

A former New York State Teacher of the Year joins us to discuss the challenge of teaching during a pandemic. Christopher Albrecht teaches fourth grade at the Fred W. Hill School in Brockport, and he has written a new book called “Unconventionally Successful.”

During the pandemic, everything is unconventional. Albrecht talks about the lessons he hopes readers learn from his book, and about ways to cope with these challenging times for students, parents, and teachers. Our guests:

  • Christopher Albrecht, teacher at the Fred W. Hill School in Brockport, former New York State Teacher of the Year, and author of “Unconventionally Successful”
  • Caurie Putnam, local writer, and mother of two students who attend Brockport Central School District

WXXI has launched a new digital series for kids called "I Can Be What?!" With two-and-a-half million students across the state learning from home during the pandemic, the series is the latest programming initiative in WXXI's efforts to educate young people. "I Can Be What?!" explores STEAM career opportunities -- from dance to zoo keeping to welding -- and gives viewers a sneak peek into what it's like to work in those friends.

This hour, we talk to the team behind the series. Our guests:

  • Erin McCormack, executive producer of WXXI Public Broadcasting
  • Karen Heller, producer of "I Can Be What?!"
  • Cara Rager, manager of education training and family engagement at WXXI
  • Jen Indovina, host of "I Can Be What?!"
  • Ashley Campbell, africologist, and co-founder of Ballet Afrikana: Dance Prep Academy
  • Nick Carson, welder

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