We continue our series of conversations about how local school districts are planning for a possible reopening in the fall. Governor Cuomo announced today that schools will reopen based on data: "Schools will reopen if a region is in Phase 4 and [the] daily infection rate remains below 5 percent (14-day avg). Schools close if [the] regional infection rate is greater than 9 percent (7-day avg) after August 1." Also today, the State Department of Health announced a framework for guidelines for a possible reopening. 

This hour, we're joined by Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small who shares what the RCSD is doing to prepare for the fall. Our guest:

Dan Clark/WMHT

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)  New York education officials are set to begin outlining what will need to be done to reopen schools as Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state has maintained a “low and stable” number of people testing positive for coronavirus.

The state Education Department is scheduled to present a framework for the long-awaited reopening guidance to the Board of Regents on Monday, with the full guidance to come later.

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

James Brown/WXXI News

Monroe County Council of School Superintendents president Thomas Putnam said Friday that the county’s suburban schools will remain open for now, despite coronavirus concerns. 

Putnam, who is also superintendent of the Penfield school district, said the decision was unanimous among the county’s districts. He said any potential decision to close schools would come after consultations with the Monroe County Health Department. 

What is the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline”? Local organizations are planning a town hall event to educate the community about their concerns. It starts with school discipline, suspension levels, and expulsion.

Our guests make their case for changing how students are disciplined:


The Rochester City School Board voted to adopt a $931 million budget Tuesday night. It was a 6-to-1 vote with Commissioner Judy Davis voting no.

Longtime Assemblyman David Gantt says the Rochester City School District is “failing” students and he wants to change that.

The Rochester Democrat has two bills in conference to change how the district is managed. One would give more control to the superintendent and the other would give the mayor control of the district. Gantt said that system has improved New York City schools, and he believes Rochester should try it.

“Our kids are failing,” Gantt said. “Something has to change. That’s why I believe in mayoral control.”


Time is running out for the Rochester City School District to respond to Distinguished Educator Jamie Aquino’s report.

After years of sagging graduation rates, the report calls for a “total reset” of most parts of the district including finances, management, and educational outcomes.

The response is due Friday.

Local students of color are speaking out about the challenges they say they face in suburban schools. Reporters Georgie Silvarole and Justin Murphy from the Democrat & Chronicle recently sat down with students from across Monroe County to discuss their experiences with racism and academic hurdles. Their investigation revealed that, on average, minority students are more than a year behind their white counterparts academically; that they face higher out-of-school suspension rates; and that they say there is persistent racism on the part of students and adults in their schools.

This hour, we hear from students, parents, and a school official who share their experiences and their ideas for how to make suburban schools more inclusive. In studio:

  • Kennedy Jackson, senior at Penfield High School 
  • Kidane Malik, senior at Greece Arcadia High School
  • Kimberly Melvin, parent of two Urban Suburban program students, member of the Pittsford Central School District PTSA, and member of the Urban Suburban Parent Advisory Committee
  • Jessie Keating, community activist
  • Ty Zinkiewich, assistant superintendent for instruction in the Spencerport Central School District
  • Georgie Silvarole, suburban trends reporter at the Democrat & Chronicle