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RCSD will start school year using only remote learning 

All Rochester City School District classes will be held remotely for at least the first 10 weeks of the school year, Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small announced Thursday in a message posted to the district's website.

Originally, like a lot of districts, RCSD was going to use a hybrid model, a combination of in-class and remote learning. For the city school district, that hybrid model would have been used for grades Pre-k through 4; students in grades 4 through 12 would have continued with distance learning unless they were in specialized programs.

But in her message, Myers-Small said that all students will begin school on September 14 learning remotely. She said that district officials carefully considered Governor Andrew Cuomo’s expectations around testing and contact tracing, particularly the additional planning with the health department that would be needed, as well as input from the community and the experiences of other urban districts around the country.

Myers-Small said that officials realize remote learning is not easy, but said “we are confident that our teachers, administrators, and support staff will continue to work hard to ensure that your children have the materials and supports necessary to be successful.”

The superintendent said that the district will continue to monitor key indicators to determine if they can shift back to in-person learning. She hopes that can happen after the first ten weeks.

The district’s teachers’ union, the Rochester Teachers Association, strongly pushed for that delay in the return to in-person teaching, expressing concerns about the safety of students and staff. RTA president Adam Urbanski said in a note to his members on Thursday that teachers “do want to return to at-school and in-person instruction but only when it is safe to do so.”

Urbanski thanked the superintendent and the district for working collaboratively to come up with the new plan.

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at rgorbman@wxxi.org.

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