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RCSD students at 26 schools to resume in-person classes


Students at 26 schools in the Rochester City School District will return to in person learning Wednesday, while the remaining 21 schools will remain in remote learning until Jan. 18, Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small said Monday.

The district is keeping some of the schools in remote learning due to staff shortages, Myers-Small said. Students who attend those schools are expected to continue to rely on platforms like Google Classroom and Seesaw with the computers provided to them by the district.

“Certainly, teaching and learning is our job and our business. I’m equally concerned about the social-emotional health of our scholars,” Myers-Small said. “I know that there might be some adjustments and things aren’t business as usual. This has really upended a lot in our district.”

In a statement, RCSD administration said that the district will monitor staff absences, and when there are more absences than can be covered “to safely educate and transport” students, the affected schools, if not the entire district, would adjust to remote learning. Parents and guardians would be informed as those changes occur.

“We are working amongst many, many uncertain factors which makes us have to make these quick pivots,” Myers-Small said. “I recognize that this is a challenging time for us, but we also know that challenges are flipsides of opportunities and we have many opportunities as we move forward to bring our scholars back to in-person learning.”

Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association, said Monday he opposes the district’s decision and would rather all schools remain remote until after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“It never ceases to amaze me how the superintendent and this administration of the City School District always find a way to make a tough situation more chaotic, more confusing and less sensible,” Urbanski said. “They make decisions without any input from their employees. There seems to be disregard if not disdain for what the teachers think.”

Urbanski said that as teachers are required to teach remotely from the school buildings, multiple teachers have had to conduct classes from their cars in school parking lots, citing logistical challenges and a lack of heat in the buildings.

“We filed a class-action grievance against the district last Friday for that reason,” he said. “I have never seen this level of incompetence disconnected from the realities of the schools, and contempt for the employees, especially the teachers. It’s really outrageous and it’s really unfortunate.”

A list of which schools are resuming in-person learning and which are remaining remote can be found on the school district's website.

This article has been updated to correct a claim from Rochester Teacher's Association President Adam Urbanski  that the district didn't contact staff and families before Monday's announcement. The district said it e-mailed staff and emailed or called families prior to Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small's remarks to the news media.