Every week that goes by – if not every day – we learn more about the steps we need to take to keep our schools both safe and open amidst the continuing COVID pandemic. This memo outlines a number of adjustments to our Safe and Open Schools Plan that incorporate lessons we have learned in Rochester and evidence and guidance from experts and schools outside our district.
Rochester Public Schools is continuing to develop our strategic plan between September 1, 2021, and April 1, 2022. This full strategic plan will guide the work of the District for three school years, from 2022 through 2025.
We recognize one size does not fit all when it comes to learning environments. A number of students at Rochester Public Schools thrived in the virtual platform over the past school year, and we aim to provide these students with a full-time virtual opportunity.
Our mission is to inspire, challenge, and empower all students with the knowledge and skills required to reach their full potential, to contribute to future generations, and to become involved members of a global community.
RPS Temporarily Moves to Distance Learning Beginning Tuesday, January 18
The purpose of this message is to inform you that I have reached the difficult decision to temporarily transition our school district to distance learning for all students beginning on Tuesday, January 18 and extending through Friday, January 28, 2022. My primary reason for taking this step is not (as might have been expected) the spread of COVID-19 among students in our schools, as our most recent data confirms that our efforts to mitigate the number of Rochester Public Schools students who test positive for COVID have been successful. The percentages of RPS students who have tested positive for COVID is lower than 10% in all of our schools and lower than 5% in most of our schools despite the significant increase in cases that has occurred in our community due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus.
However, the impact of the Omicron variant on staff absences make it impossible to run our schools and programs safely and effectively amidst the current surge of the virus in our community. Currently, 50% of our school buildings are experiencing significant staff shortages, including teachers, transportation drivers, school nurses, maintenance staff, and paraprofessionals. Our school district team and I considered transitioning only those school buildings with high staff shortages to distance learning rather than all schools in the district, but the likelihood of further increases in the percentages of our staff who are absent due to COVID in our other schools and programs led to the decision to make the shift for the district as a whole. We consulted closely with our building principals in this decision and I am grateful for their input and their leadership.
I hope and expect that this transition to distance learning will last only for the two week period that is being announced this evening. Our plan is to return to and remain in-person learning at the conclusion of this period, during which most experts predict we will see the rapid rise and then fall in COVID case rates in our community.
You will find below more information on the implications of this transition. Please review it carefully.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we make a transition that I know many of us wanted to avoid but that is in the long-run interest of our students, our staff, and our schools.
Kent Pekel, Ed.D.
Distance Learning begins Tuesday, January 18, 2022. There are two already scheduled student days off within the next two weeks. Students will return to in-person learning on Monday, January 31.
Two weeks allows all sick students and staff and those who have been exposed and are incubating the virus to progress to being non-infectious by the time school resumes
Calendar For Families
Thursday, January 13: Students report to school
Friday, January 14: Students report to school
Monday, January 17: MLK Jr. Holiday, students do not have school
Tuesday, January 18 - Thursday, January 20: Students learn through Distance Learning
Friday, January 21: Students do not have school. This is a scheduled teacher workday due to the end of the semester.
Monday, January 24 - Friday, January 28: Students learn through Distance Learning
Please continue to report your child’s positive cases to your school building.
Free weekly meal kits will be available for drive-through pick-up on two Wednesdays, January 19 and 26, 11 AM to 2 PM, at Graham Park Fairgrounds, Building #35
Families may pick up one meal kit per child enrolled in Rochester Public Schools.
Please enter at 16th Street and Arena Dr SE. Proceed north to Building #35. If able, please open/unlock your trunk or leave a seat open where the meal kit can be placed.
Meal Kits will consist of heat-and-serve and ready-to-eat entrees, fruits, vegetables and milk. Instructions for storage/preparation will be available online.
No pre-registration or paperwork is required.
School Age Child Care - SACC
SACC will be available to families currently enrolled in SACC. Watch for a message regarding registration from SACC.
Location: Hoover Elementary School (369 Elton Hills Dr NW, Rochester, MN 55901)
Hours: 6:30 AM - 6 PM
Students should bring their devices to SACC so that they can log on to their classrooms.
Breakfast and lunch will be offered to all SACC students.
Instruction (ALL students will be in DL)
Your child’s school and their teachers will communicate information on schedules and how to access documents with you.