Rochester families brace for distance learning again

Miguel Octavio
Updated: August 10, 2020 11:26 PM
Created: August 10, 2020 11:01 PM

(ABC 6 News) - The Rochester Public School Board approved its back-to-school year plan unanimously late Monday night. Some board members considered it to be the hardest decision they've had to make. 

The district proposed elementary students start the year with classes in-person twice a week, while middle and high school students have classes online. 


Learning from home again is bringing strong reactions from some families. No matter what happens, no one seems happy. 

Sabrina Cowan's family just moved to Rochester. She's worried her teenage son won't make any new friends. 

"It's hard to move amidst all this and then to have this happen, where he was excited and wanting to go back to school, regardless if he had to wear a mask or not," Cowan said.

Cowan said she's considering moving him to another school so he can meet people face-to-face and make sure he has a good education.

"To find out that he can't even go to school right now unless something changes was really devastating," Cowan said.  

Other families agree this isn't ideal but said there's no other choice.

"This is unfortunately, I feel, is going to get worse before it gets better," said Amy Nelson, a mother of two teenagers.

Nelson said she trusts the board's decision. ABC 6 News first caught up with Nelson in the spring when schools first closed down.

"This isn't one family. This isn't one community... The whole, entire world is going through the same thing right now," Nelson said. "Flexibility, patience, and grace are just what needs to be done."

Nelson said even if classes open, the effects of the pandemic might worsen. Cowan said she and her family will just have to make the best of the situation. 

"I don't want this to be our reality," Cowan said. "If it ends up being our reality, we will take it day by day with faith in God and know that whatever happens is his plan."

Some families are asking RPS to consider a hybrid model for older students. Rochester school officials said they will re-evaluate the situation every few weeks.

RPS will hold another meeting Aug. 18 to incorporate feedback from staff and families. The district worked with a task force of 160 people made up of families, staff, and health experts to come up with the initial plans. 

RPS is encouraging families to provide feedback as the year develops. 

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