Many parents are noting the inconsistencies between COVID-19 safety regulations in schools from the Center for Disease Control and New York state.

The largest disconnect -- desk spacing requirements between students. 

The CDC is allowing 3 feet distance between students if they’re wearing masks and other safety protocols are followed.

However, if the desks are 3 feet apart, the state requires that barriers be placed between students, which will cut classroom capacity in half.

James Brown / WXXI News

In February 2020, Monroe County’s Council of Superintendents was meeting with Monroe County Health Director Mike Mendoza weekly. The COVID-19 pandemic was creeping toward the United States and the council was preparing for what could happen. Kathy Graupman, then Vice President of the group, said they typically met once a month. Soon after, she said they were meeting daily. 

Research shows fewer high school seniors have applied to college during the pandemic, and the students who have been impacted the most are those from lower-income backgrounds. The data indicates that these students were more likely to be affected by financial challenges related to the pandemic, and also by direct health risks from the virus. Experts say the current disparity will contribute to education and wealth gaps in the long term.

What can be done? Our guests explain the challenges and share their ideas for how to support students. Our guests:


Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance last week about in-person schooling, Greece Central School District Superintendent Kathleen Graupman says those guidelines aren’t much different from what is already being practiced locally.

What kind of effort do school districts make to teach Black history? The West Irondequoit School District is moving beyond the usual, often narrow approach. As part of a new video series through the Our Voices Project, students are educating their peers and the public about lesser-known Black historical figures.

Do you know about the lives and legacies of Jeremiah Hamilton, Bass Reeves, Afeni Shakur, and Maria Stewart? You will with our guests: 

  • Jackie McGriff, director and producer for the Our Voices Project
  • Courtney Shouse, parent, and member of the Education Task Force for Eliminating Racism and Seeking Equity (E.R.A.S.E.) 
  • Tyleea K. Payne-Harley, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Maria Stewart in the Our Voices Project
  • Selena G. Eyob, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Afeni Shakur in the Our Voices Project
  • Justin R. Connor, member of the Irondequoit High School Mosaic Club, who portrays Bass Reeves in the Our Voices Project

freeimages.com/Tracey Gayle

Last May, after George Floyd was killed in police custody and nationwide protests for social justice began, East High School Superintendent Shaun Nelms challenged his colleagues across Monroe County to teach students about Rochester's history of segregation and disparity.

"I would also say that the death of Daniel Prude in Rochester was also a reminder that this work is critically important," Nelms added, referring to the man who died last March after Rochester police restrained him. 

Parents whose children attend the Rochester City School District have until Friday to let the district know whether they want to stick with remote learning or shift to a hybrid model on Jan. 4.

The district extended the deadline for families to respond to a survey detailing their preferences.

As of Thursday morning, 85% of the parents with elementary students in the district and 69% of those with secondary students had responded.

How is remote learning going for local students and teachers? This hour, we hear from parents and a teacher about how their children and students are adapting to the virtual learning environment this fall. What's working? What are the challenges? What can be done to help keep students engaged and socialized over these virtual platforms?

Our guests address these questions are more:

  • Christina Knauf, parent of a pre-K student at CP Rochester, and ELA teacher-leader at East Lower School in the RCSD
  • Kearstin Brown, parent of two RCSD elementary scholars, and host for WXXI's Classical 91.5
  • Scott Fitzgerald, parent of three students in the Fairport Central School District

ROC the Future has released its annual "State of Our Children" report card. It tracks key measures of wellbeing of children and youth in the Rochester area.

Our guests discuss what the data shows when it comes to education, health, and more, and their action items going forward. Our guests:

We talk with Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small and Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski about the latest news from the district.

Myers-Small announced Thursday that RCSD students with disabilities who are in specialized programs will have the option of returning to the classroom in-person four days a week, beginning in January.

We discuss the plan, the surveys the district and the RTA sent to teachers, students, and families to help make the decision, and what they expect in the months ahead. Our guests: