Monday was the first day of school for the Rochester City School District. Students will be attending their classes virtually for the first 10 weeks.
To help, the city has turned recreation centers, or R-Centers, into a place where parents can drop off their kids and have peace of mind that they are going to get their schoolwork done.
Jesus Alverado, an 11th grader, and his brother Tito Velazquez, who is starting the 7th grade, started their first day of school at the Trenton & Pamela Jackson R-Center off of Clinton Avenue. The virtual start to the school year isn't going to throw them off their A-game.
"I feel like I know I'm going to do good and I'm going to pass," said Velazquez.
"I think it's better than going to school and getting the risk of getting infected or sick," said Alverado.
The centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. for the web sessions, and the R-Center programs will run from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., which includes sports activities to allow kids to get some of their energy out after class.
The mother of Alverado and Velazquez, Yanria Velez, teaches at the R-Center, and she wanted to make sure someone keeps an eye on her sons while she's busy.
"They cannot be by themselves at home and stuff," said Velez. "So I know I can make sure they’re doing what they need to do academic wise."
There is a mandatory health screening when anyone comes into the building. Classrooms and the computer room are spaced out so that students can social distance. In the computer room, every other computer is available. There is a limited amount of computers so they do ask kids to bring their Chromebook if they can, and for them to also bring their own headphones.
Director of Center Operations for the Department of Recreation and Youth Services, Kendra Hayle-Laboy, said parents can drop off their kids at any time and on their first day they can sign their kids up to keep coming.
"Just come by and sign your child up," said Hayle-Laboy. "We have a really fast one-pager, easy Rec application form, and that will be able to provide your child access to all of our centers in the city."
There are nine R-Centers around the city doing this program, and they all will also be providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner.