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 Back-to-School Plans Announced

 7/16/2020

RPS 205 families and staff,

District administrators, teachers and staff are developing plans to keep students and staff safe as we resume school this fall. We haven't finalized all the details, but we want to tell families and staff what we're planning when school starts Sept. 1.

Families will have options. Families can choose to return to in-person instruction, or they can choose full-time remote learning:

  • In-person instruction: Students and staff will attend school within the health and safety guidelines outlined by the Illinois State Board of Education, Winnebago County Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC. This includes masks and social distancing whenever possible. 
  • Full-time remote learning: We know families have various health and risk factors during this pandemic, and we want to ensure students are still able to learn, connect and grow during this time. That's why we're giving families a choice to participate in full-time remote learning five days a week. Families who choose the remote option must commit only to remote learning at least through winter break. 

We recommend that students who are in transition periods – such as kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade – and all English Language Learners and students with IEPs choose in-person instruction. Having a face-to-face, personal connection will help ensure
a solid transition and additional support during this difficult school year.

Early Childhood programs (ages 3-4): Students in our prekindergarten programs can attend in-person instruction, offered five days a week at their Early Childhood Center. Families can choose remote instruction for students with medical exemptions.

Elementary (K-5): Families can choose between full-time remote learning five days each week, or in-person instruction five days each week at the student's zoned school or special program site. Transportation will be provided for in-person instruction. Please note that if school is closed for any length of time, students will shift to remote learning. Remote learning this fall will be different from the spring for families who choose full-time remote instruction: 

  • Elementary attendance will be tracked, and students must engage in 5 hours of daily learning. That includes instruction and any independent student activity.
  • Teachers will introduce new content, and students' work will be measured through progress monitoring and assessments. Student progress will be reported on a trimester report card.
  • Elementary students will be assigned to teachers who are teaching remotely – that means students will be in a virtual classroom with students across the district, not necessarily students in their zone school. Students will likely be assigned a teacher who doesn't teach at their zone school.
  • We plan to accommodate students who are enrolled in special programs at their special program school – both for remote and in-person instruction. This could change, however, depending on how many students choose remote learning instead of in-person instruction. There is no guarantee that special programs will be available in full for remote learning. This applies to the STEAM Academy at Haskell, Two-Way Language Immersion at Barbour, Gifted Academy (elementary grades 1-5) and Maria Montessori at Marsh. We will share more information in the coming weeks.
  • Students will be assigned an electronic device to use at home. Students in kindergarten, first and second grades will be assigned an iPad, and students in third grades and higher will be assigned a Chromebook.
  • Students will use specific applications online to assist with connecting with teachers and learning materials, such as Google Classroom, Seesaw and Nearpod.

Middle school & high school: Families can choose between full-time remote learning five days each week, or in-person instruction two days each week at their zone or special program school – with remote learning the remaining three days. This includes special programs at Auburn (Gifted and CAPA), West (CAPA) and Thurgood Marshall (Gifted grades 6-8). We will share more information in the coming weeks. Transportation will be provided for in-person instruction. 

Middle & high school students who choose in-person learning will be divided into two groups – Group A and Group B. 
Group A will meet at school for in-person instruction on Mondays and Thursdays each week. Group B will meet at school for in-person instruction on Tuesdays and Fridays each week. When students are not at school for in-person learning, they're expected to participate in remote learning. On Wednesdays, teachers can connect with students who need additional support and interventions. If school is closed for any length of time, students will shift to remote learning. We're working out details of assigning students to A/B groups, and we'll share more information soon.

Students who choose full-time remote learning should note:

  • Attendance will be tracked, and students must be engaged in 5 hours of daily learning. That includes instruction and any independent student activity.
  • Teachers will introduce new content in instruction, and students' work will be measured through progress monitoring and assessments. Student progress will be reported on a semester report card.
  • It's possible some courses will not be offered remotely, depending on the materials required. Counselors will work with families to ensure academic schedules meet students' needs.

Meals will still be provided for all students – both at school for students participating in in-person instruction, and for students who are only participating remotely. Meals will be available as a grab-and-go drive up, similar to the spring and summer meal service. We'll share more information closer to the start of the school year.

I appreciate all the input our teachers have provided in planning for the start of school. Our focus is on three major areas: Safety, social-emotional support, and student achievement. Each of those areas are at the forefront as we continue to work through details of back-to-school planning. 

We will share more details about our plans later this month, including how families can choose remote or in-person learning options. We know you’ll have other  questions, and we want to make sure we answer them when we share more detailed information. Please submit questions online via Let’s Talk!

A return to teaching and learning – whether remotely or in-person – must be done in partnership with our families, students and staff. Thank you for your patience, support and cooperation during this time.

Sincerely,

Ehren Jarrett
Superintendent
Rockford Public Schools

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