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 Aug. 12 Back-to-School Update

 8/12/2020

RPS 205 families and staff, 

Thank you again for completing the back-to-school survey in a short time frame. It has allowed administrators, teachers and staff to plan for the upcoming school year and ensure we can make the best of this difficult situation for all of our students and staff.

We have updated our plans based on feedback from our families and staff and want to make sure families have the latest information so they can plan for the upcoming school year. The changes outlined below reflect our three priority areas: staff and student safety, social-emotional support, and student achievement.  

First day of school: The Rockford School Board on Tuesday approved an amended school calendar, making the first day of school for students Wednesday, Sept. 2, instead of Tuesday, Sept. 1. Sept. 1 will now be another teacher institute day to help teachers and staff prepare for the year and start strong. 

Elementary schools first week: We'll also stagger the start of the school year at our elementary schools so we're able to welcome students in small groups and focus on safety and new routines:  

  • On Wednesday, Sept. 2, elementary students with a last name that starts with A-K will attend for a full day of instruction.   
  • On Thursday, Sept. 3, elementary students with a last name that starts with L-Z will attend for a full day of instruction.   
  • On Friday, all elementary students will attend together. Households who have students with different last names should plan to attend on the assigned day for the oldest student in their family.  

Here's why: We know this school year will look different from any other. We'll have a lot of new routines for our students and staff, and we'd like to introduce those to a limited number of students so we can practice together in small groups. Schools will share more specific information as we get closer to the first day of school.

Middle & high school: Instead of pairing students on A/B days for Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday, all middle and high school students who chose in-person instruction will attend school on Mondays and Thursdays. Students will not attend in-person on Tuesdays and Fridays. This is beneficial for a few reasons:   

  • Teachers will have in-person contact with students on two days, instead of four.  
  • Teachers can fully focus on in-person students two days a week, and fully remote students two days a week, instead of a combination each day.   
  • With fewer student attendance days, this adjusted schedule gives our custodial staff more time to ensure our schools are clean.  

Wednesdays: Wednesday will be special attendance days for students at all levels to receive additional support, enrichment and interventions. Wednesdays will feature a shortened schedule for students. In the afternoons, staff will attend their professional learning community meetings, or PLCs. Students who attend on Wednesdays will still receive a grab-and-go meal to have lunch after they leave school. The Wednesday schedule is:  

  • Elementary: 7:35 a.m. to 11 a.m.  
  • Middle: 9:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.  
  • High: 8:20 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.   

Child care on Wednesdays: Adjusting the in-person learning schedule on Wednesdays creates another burden for families with students who need child care. We are working with community partners to provide families with additional resources and support during this time. We'll share more information as soon as we have details.  

How to choose the remote-only Early Childhood plan: Families interested in remote-only Early Childhood instruction must complete the Early Childhood Remote Option survey. The survey is open Aug. 12-17. Follow this link to take the survey: Early Childhood Remote Option Survey.

If families have not already enrolled in the RPS 205 Early Childhood program, visit the Early Childhood Screening & Placement Office on the second floor of the Administration Building, 501 7th St. Please bring: Your child's state certified birth certificate, a parent/guardian photo ID, proof of address, and proof of your household income (two most recent and consecutive pay stubs for all working adults supporting the child; 2019 W2 or tax return documents; Proof of Public Benefits, such as WIC, SNAP, TANF, SSI, or Unemployment). Call 815-229-2103 if you have questions about your child's placement. You can also submit your questions via email at sacec@rps205.com or via Let's Talk.  

Class sizes: We've already shared the fact that we're doing everything we can to limit in-person class sizes and assign 20 students or fewer to each classroom at all grade levels. We are still doing that work with our building principals and master schedulers to ensure class sizes are capped at 20.  

Devices: Schools are working hard to distribute devices and school materials to remote learners before the start of school. Your school staff will share more information as soon as details are finalized.  

Remote-only staff: Teachers who are assigned remote-only teaching positions will work from an RPS 205 site. This gives them access to district-provided resources to best engage with their students, plus access to coaching and a professional learning community, or PLC. Locations could include their school building, the former Page Park School, Wilson ASPIRE or another district facility.  

What's next: We're using the final few weeks before the start of school to ensure all students will have a high-quality education experience this school year, and help our staff feel prepared and supported while we begin this unprecedented year. Please continue to submit your questions, comments and concerns to Let's Talk.

Thank you again for your cooperation and support during this time.  

Sincerely, 

Ehren Jarrett
Superintendent
Rockford Public Schools  

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