ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A new year of school means a new routine. In the Barry household, it starts with breakfast — but the start of this school year is different.

What You Need To Know

  • In Rochester city schools, Monday was a first day like no other
  • Because of the pandemic, city schools are beginning the year with all students learning from home
  • One pair of teachers — a couple — have turned their home into a school house

“It’s been an interesting year to say the least,” said Gavin Barry, a history teacher at Rochester’s World of Inquiry School.  

Wife Mariana is also a teacher in the RCSD. She teaches high school English at School Without Walls. For the first 10 weeks of school, both are teaching remotely, from home.

“It’s exciting to see the kids,” said Mariana Barry, as she checked in with her students online. “They’re happy to see you.”

There’s a reason Rochester city schools are teaching remotely. The pandemic and concerns over safety in a district with most kids living in poverty prompted the decision by Superintendent Leslie Myers-Small.

But for teachers, it’s not the same.

“Teaching remotely is not the same as a classroom,” said Gavin Barry. “It does not allow for the same level of relationship building, the same level of discussion, dialogue.”

“Learning remotely is tough for kids,” said Mariana Barry. “You know that it’s hard and you start to lose the kids that that are checking out. And you do gain kids.”

Speaking of kids, two of the Barrys' three children are also learning from home. Both attend Gates-Chili schools. Son Ryan likes it. Daughter Ella, however, is not a fan.

“It’s OK,” she said. “I don’t mind the specials, but I hate the learning because I need a teacher to tell me what to do.”

School in 2020 will have its own chapter in history. As with most things this year — the Barrys are adapting.

“This is our plan,” said Gavin. “And we’re gonna make the best of it.”