District 212 seeing improvements from students

RTHS Principal Chris Lewis discusses academic performance with members of the District 212 Board of Education on Tuesday. Lewis said the district reduced its number of failing students by 50 percent since September. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

RTHS adding 60 more in-person learners for second semester; failure rate cut 50 percent since September

ROCHELLE — Rochelle Township High School Principal Chris Lewis recapped the first semester and detailed expectations for second semester during the Rochelle School District 212 Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening. While District 212 has reduced the number of failing students by 50 percent since September, Lewis said more work remains to be done.

“There’s no secret that we were really struggling around September and October,” Lewis said. “Our kids and our teachers were struggling and we were looking for what we could do to get our kids over the hump… We’ve decreased our deficiencies, but we’re facing twice the number of deficiencies as we’d see during a normal semester. We still have some ways to go on this.”

District 212 had been conducting hybrid learning during first semester, with 31 percent of students opting out for remote learning. RTHS underwent an eight-week pause of in-person learning in November, with Tuesday marking the first day RTHS resumed its hybrid model. Lewis said RTHS has added 60 more in-person learners for second semester, lowering the opt-out rate by 6 percent with the freshman class seeing an 8 percent decrease in opt-outs.

"When we went into an adaptive pause, we were happy to see attendance and engagement stay at a high level,” RTHS Superintendent Jason Harper said. “There have been ups and downs for all involved in this year's hybrid model… While in-person learning benefits from daily contact with teachers, adhering to COVID-19 mitigation strategies like social distancing, masking and cleaning procedures can be cumbersome for students and teachers. On the other hand, while remote learning can be successful for some students, it comes with its own challenges like ensuring all technology is working and age-appropriate expectations."

As District 212 looks to jump-start learning during second semester, Lewis said RTHS students opting in will attend school for five in-person classes as opposed to the four they took during first semester. One of those five courses will be an in-person physical education course. Lewis also said the district will utilize APEX flexible learning, integrated study halls in student schedules and summer school courses to help failing students catch up and stay on track.

“There may not be enough time during the semester for some of our kids to do everything,” Lewis said. “We’re hoping we can be closer to normal when summer school comes around.”

Vaccines

Harper said staff members in District 212 and District 231 will be receiving COVID-19 vaccines with the help of school nurses and the Ogle County Health Department. Harper said over 225 staff members across both school districts will receive the first of two Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses on Monday, Jan. 25, with the second dose scheduled for Monday, Feb. 22.

“The OCHD has been a good partner to us and RCH has played a role in vaccinations as well,” Harper said. “We’ll help supply registered nurses for the vaccinations, but the OCHD will provide some as well. We hope to have up to seven stations of nurses giving vaccinations every 10 minutes with one-hour lunches… We’ll hopefully have vaccinations done by 4 p.m. Monday.”

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