Colleagues,

Welcome back. I trust that you had a safe and rewarding holiday break. We all hope that 2021 will be, in every way, a better year than the one we’ve had. As we resume this most unusual and difficult school year, here’s a brief update:

– Phase One Begins. As the COVID-19 positivity rate climbs to 10% in Monroe County, the District is still following through with the initial phase of its reopening plan. About 95 Special Education teachers, joined by approximately 315 Special Subjects and Support Services teachers, are returning today to teach, in person, approximately 350 students in some specialized programs in Special Education. Their students are scheduled to begin showing up tomorrow. We are closely monitoring this and continuing our efforts to ensure that the District makes the teaching and learning environment as safe as possible. Affected teachers are encouraged to bring to our attention any concerns or violations of safety requirements and protocols.

– Independent Inspection of Ventilation. An Industrial Hygienist, hired by the RTA, just completed an independent inspection of the ventilation systems at each of the 15 schools affected by Phase One of the District’s reopening for hybrid teaching and learning. Each school’s inspection report is being sent today to the RTA Faculty Representative(s) at every one of the affected schools so that they could share it with any interested RTA member at that school. The same independent inspection will also be conducted for the rest of our schools and work locations prior to the beginning of Phases Two and Three of RCSD’s reopening plan. For more information about this, or other health and safety-related issues, please contact Margaret Sergent <mmsergent@rochesterteachers.com>.

– Unanswered Questions. Are you sometimes frustrated by the District’s communication, or lack of it, about the reopening plans? And are you unsure whether the rumors you’re hearing are true or false? That is why we have established a new section on the RTA website to gather unanswered questions and press for timely and accurate responses. To see the questions and answers, or to pose a question that is yet to be answered, go to “We Need Answers From the RCSD” <http://rochesterteachers.org/6436-2/>. Your questions will be brought to the attention of the appropriate personnel at Central Office and the answers will be then posted by us on this RTA website page. 

– Accommodation Requests. If you need a medical accommodation from the District, please submit your request as soon as possible. While the District is required to accommodate eligible requests no matter when submitted, the earlier they receive yours the sooner they’ll be able to act on it and make the appropriate determination. If you have questions or need assistance related to ADA accommodations, or related to any leave of absence, please contact RTA’s Martha Keating <maskerade6@aol.com> for clarification, advice and support.

– CIT Mentor Office Hours. The Career in Teaching (CIT) program is offering, via Zoom, drop-in mentor support before school, midday and after school hours. Click on <CIT Mentor Office Hours> to get advice about an instructional challenge, assistance with writing an IEP, help with instructional technology, or any other issue related to teaching and learning. No appointment is necessary. Contact CIT Coordinator Stefan Cohen <stefan.cohen@rcsdk12.org> with questions or for more details and information.

– Fighting For Our Schools. The RTA is a proud member of the Rochester Community Coalition to Save Our Schools (ROC-SOS). Our joint goal is to fight for equitable school funding, to avert layoffs and to prevent further cuts in needed services and programs for our students. The next virtual town hall meeting of ROC-SOS is this Tuesday, January 5, at 5:30 pm. Please note that pre-registration is required for those interested in attending. To register, simply go to <https://nysut.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIsdeugqj4jGda794xBHt9ug-aQ1mEJSu3T>. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact ROC-SOS Coordinator Anthony Plonczynski-Figueroa <anthony.plonczynski-figueroa@nysut.org>. We urge you to become actively involved in this community-wide effort to spare our students.

– Rochester Teachers Care. After a brief pause, we are resuming the Rochester Teachers Care videos featuring the exemplary practice and dedicated work of RTA members, especially during the pandemic. If you know a colleague, or a group of colleagues, who deserve to be recognized, please bring it to the attention of Aimee Rinere <arinere@rochesterteachers.com> or Matt Lavonas <mlavonas@rochesterteachers.com>. The video series is sponsored by the RTA and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT). 

Thank you for all that you continue to do for our students. We will continue to keep you informed about the progress of our efforts on your behalf.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President