All seventh- through 12th-grade students in the Rochester City School District will finish the academic year with remote learning after a survey showed not enough wanted to come back to a classroom, according to the reopening plan announced Dec. 18 by Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small.
As for students in prekindergarten through sixth grade, 33% are scheduled to return to buildings on Feb. 8.
It previously had been announced that students with disabilities who were in specialized programs from kindergarten through grade 12 would have the option of in-person learning. Myers-Small said 325 students would be returning to classrooms starting Jan. 5.
Families had to tell the district by Dec. 11 whether they wanted their children to stay with remote learning or have a mix of remote or in-person instruction.
More than 17,000 students in all grades will stay with remote learning, according to figures released by the district. That number represents families who selected the remote option, were undecided or did not respond. Those students are 70% of the district total.
“Some families have shared they’re not comfortable, they don’t feel it’s safe,” Myers-Small said. “We certainly respect that. It is about parent choice.”
In pre-K through grade six, 4,423 out of 13,521 students chose the hybrid model, which will have them in a classroom on Mondays and Tuesdays. On those days, their remote classmates will join them via Zoom for part of the day. All students will be remote the rest of the week.
For grades 7-12, there were 2,937 out of 11,109 – only 26% — who chose hybrid. Myers-Small said she needed at least the same percentage as the elementary grades to bring back any in-person learning for the upper grades.
However, she said seventh- through 12th-graders will have in-person support through learning pods, which will offer academic and social-emotional support individually or in small groups –- depending on the need of the student.
Myers-Small said the district’s plan would allow for a seamless transition back to all-remote for all students if local or state officials required schools to close. One factor in keeping buildings open is that enough students and staff agree to be tested for COVID-19 each month. The percentage depends on whether the schools are in a yellow, orange or red zone as designated by the state. When she announced the plan, the city was in an orange zone.
Families of in-school children will receive a letter with their child’s school, teacher’s name and information in–person learning and transportation. Families will received a guide that is online at www.rcsdk12.org/familyguide. They also will receive a consent form allowing the district to test children for COVID-19.
Myers-Small said classrooms will be set up according to guidelines set by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More information about the reopening plan is at https://www.rcsdk12.org/reopens