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 Aug. 7 Back-to-School Update

 8/7/2020

​RPS 205 families and staff,

I want to extend a sincere thank you to our families for making a timely decision to help us plan. There's no doubt deciding between in-person and full-time remote instruction for the upcoming school year was difficult.

Based on our preliminary responses and data, we plan to do everything we can to limit in-person class sizes and assign 20 students or fewer to each classroom at all grade levels. Because of the rate that families chose remote instruction, we'll have more than 100 full-time remote-teaching jobs available to our elementary staff. Principals, administrators and staff are now working with our bilingual team and other support personnel to connect with families who haven't yet responded to the survey. Here's the preliminary response breakdown for K-12 students, verified as of Aug 3:

  • in-person instruction: 49 percent, or 9,475 students
  • full-time remote instruction: 51 percent, or 9,814 students

These results do not include families who did not complete the survey, which accounts for 5,952 students. School staff are connecting with families this week to either verify or update their choice because they did not complete the survey and missed the Aug. 3 deadline.

Early Childhood: Based on feedback from families via Let's Talk, we are adding a half-day remote-only option for ALL Early Childhood students. That option would be available for all Early Childhood students, not only those with a medical exemption. (Note, this does not include PreK students in the Maria Montessori Program at Marsh.) We'll share more information with families who have already registered for our Early Childhood program soon. If you still need to enroll in RPS 205 for Early Childhood, please visit or call the Early Childhood Screening & Placement office815-229-2103.

Elementary school: Because of the even split between in-person and remote instruction, elementary school teachers will have a classroom with either all in-person students OR all remote students, instead of a combination of both remote and in-person. We will share more information about this when we finalize details.

Remote instruction engagement: I want families to know that our remote instruction will be different from our emergency remote and distance learning in the spring. Our teachers and staff are committed to supporting our students and their families, regardless of where their lessons happen. I am confident that our teachers are prepared to support students and prioritize engagement after nearly 1,000 teachers participated in professional development courses directly connected to remote instruction. About half of our teachers now have a full toolbox to provide a robust full-time remote-learning experience for our students, and others will continue with professional development before the first day of school.

What's next: Many school districts across the country and the state are adjusting their plans to offer remote-only plans. At this time, local school districts – including RPS 205 – will continue to focus on both in-person and remote options. We are still working closely with the Winnebago County Health Department to both monitor the infection rate in our region and find solutions to keep our students and staff safe. We are also committed to continuing our work with our union leaders to ensure student and staff safety is always a priority. Principals are finalizing their building-specific plans, and they will share more information with families in the coming days.

Follow this link for updated information in the back-to-school Family Handbook. (Click to view Spanish handbook.) The handbook includes updates or new information in the following areas: 

  • Athletics and extracurricular activities (page 8)
  • Special education (page 11)
  • Hall lockers (page 13 & 14)
  • Temperature screenings (page 16)
  • HVAC (page 17) 
  • Consideration for warm weather (page 17)
  • Fine Arts (page 21)
  • 2020-21 school start times (page 23)
  • Emergency drills (page 23)
  • Lunch (page 24)

    We will continue to share more information in the coming days. Thank you for your continued cooperation and support.

    Sincerely,

Ehren Jarrett
Superintendent
Rockford Public Schools


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