WXXI AM News

school reopening

Max Schulte | WXXI News

Some local schools are easing into in-person learning after a year of remote classes, and while the shift comes with some risks, health officials said simple precautions can help protect students and school staff.

The superintendent of Brighton schools wrote an open letter, urging state leaders to greenlight the return of students to school five days a week. Kevin McGowan wrote that Governor Andrew Cuomo and state health leaders need to take action based on the new CDC guidance. McGowan wrote, "Your continued inaction smacks of detachment, complacency, or a lack of understanding regarding the impact of your failure to act. There does not seem to be any reason for your delay and in the absence of one, we are left to think that movement on this issue simply isn’t at all a priority for you. Children need to be in school five days per week."

McGowan joins us to discuss the impact of hybrid and remote learning on students, and his desire to see students back in classrooms full-time. Our guest:

  • Kevin McGowan, superintendent of Brighton Central School District

James Brown / WXXI News

The Rochester Teachers Association has strengthened its stance against students returning to the classrooms in the Rochester City School District. 

Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small plans to bring thousands of students back to buildings in February. A few hundred students with special needs returned to school buildings in early January. 

How are local colleges and universities handling the 2021 spring semester during the pandemic? Nazareth College has shifted the start of its spring semester to February 1 due to the rise in COVID-19 cases after the holidays, while continuing to offer classes online. Monroe Community College resumed on-campus classes on Monday, but nearly 80 percent of its courses are being delivered remotely. The University of Rochester restarts most of its classes on February 1, offering both in-person and remote options.

This hour, we hear from representatives from all three institutions about plans for the spring semester, including access to courses, testing protocols, dorm life, and more. Our guests:

  • Beth Paul, Ph.D., president of Nazareth College
  • Katherine Douglas, Ed.D., interim president of Monroe Community College
  • Jeff Runner, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Engineering at the University of Rochester

We get an update from the Rochester City School District. Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small is asking the Finger Lakes Reopening Schools Safely Task Force to conduct an independent review of the RCSD's reopening plan. The request comes after a Rochester Teacher's Association survey indicated that the majority of RTA members want the district to remain in remote learning until 70 percent of teachers receive a vaccine.

The district has returned to in-person/hybrid learning under a three-phased plan. Superintendent Myers-Small joins us for the hour to discuss reopening and to answer our questions and yours. Our guest:

*Note: The district has shared the following information:

Monday was the first day back at school for many of New York’s kindergarten through 12th-grade students, though some students will learn remotely.

Health officials say they will monitor whether the in-person classes cause any outbreaks of COVID-19. 

The New York State Health Department has set up a dashboard for parents who want to see whether anyone in their child’s school district has tested positive for the coronavirus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new site a few days ago. 

“If there’s a problem, we will see the problem,” the governor said on Sept. 10.

The Rochester Teachers Association advocated for a full remote learning schedule to open the school year. That's exactly what the district decided to do. It makes Rochester the only district in Monroe County without any in-person learning this fall. There have been mixed reactions, with some parents saying that this puts predominantly Black and brown children at a disadvantage.

Our guests discuss the decision and the plans for the fall:

Dan Clark New York Now

Schools in New York are busy finalizing plans to partially reopen, and many colleges and universities have already begun classes. But those who work at the schools, including teachers and professors, say guidelines for when to wear masks need to be more comprehensive to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.  

The state’s largest teachers union, New York State United Teachers, wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, asking him to revise the policy on masks in schools to make them mandatory while in the classroom. 

September 8 marks the first day of school for students in the Pittsford Central School District. Administrators, teachers, and families have spent the summer preparing for students to be back in the classroom – either in-person or remotely.

This hour, we continue our series of conversations with local superintendents about reopening schools. We’re joined by Pittsford Central School District Superintendent Mike Pero, who shares his district’s plans for learning models, masking, testing, and more. Our guest:

  • Mike Pero, superintendent of the Pittsford Central School District

We talk to students about going back to school. The students range in age from elementary level to high school. Some are returning to the physical classrooms; others are not.

We talk to the students about what they feel like they need most in this new pandemic school year. Our guests:

  • Gwen, rising fourth grader at Klem Road South Elementary School in Webster
  • Randell Warren, rising freshman at UPrep Rochester
  • Paige O’Malley, rising freshman at Minerva DeLand 9th Grade School in Fairport
  • Oscar Merulla-Bonn, rising seventh grader at Twelve Corners Middle School in Brighton
  • Christian Hartman, rising fifth grader at Thornell Road Elementary School in Pittsford
  • Bilene Ugine, rising sixth grader at East Rochester Middle Level Academy
  • Lucia Ruderman, rising fourth grader at Genesee Community Charter School
  • Ana Sinha, rising fourth grader at The Harley School

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