School district shares possible reopening plans for fall

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ROCHELLE — Plans for reopening Rochelle schools for the 2020-21 school year were shared with parents through an informational email Tuesday evening and discussed at Tuesday night's Rochelle Elementary District 231 board meeting. The email sent to parents also included a link for another parent survey.

The plans, outlined in the following letter from superintendent of schools Jason Harper, share insight from a previous parent survey and plans on what the school year could look like for Rochelle elementary and high school students; however, no definitive plans have been made as of yet.

Both Rochelle school districts surveyed parents in early July regarding their preferences about returning to school while adhering to the Illinois State Board of Education's guidelines for the fall. The survey results showed that our parents and students valued choice in determining whether to return to school for in person learning in the fall. Considering the strong response (44%) to wanting to opt out of school for remote learning, the following plan was created. We must emphasize that this plan only works if we continue to see a high portion of our students opt for remote learning at home as the school districts must adhere to social distancing requirements.

So, if we have 25% or more students opt for remote learning in the fall, our plan looks like:

If you opt in for in person instruction:

All in person learning will take place from our normal starting times to roughly 12:30pm

PreK to 8th grade students will attend everyday; RTHS 9/10th grades will attend Mon & Weds, 11/12th grades will attend Tues & Thurs, each Fri will alternate

Must wear mask at all times unless outside

We will socially distance to the greatest extent possible

Supplies will be limited to only one person using them when possible

Lunch will be served as a grab and go meal instead of a sit down meal

Each student will be issued a district Chromebook

All students must adhere to all restrictions above at all times

PE, music, art and other specials/electives will be limited in person or moved all online

Transitions and passing periods will be eliminated or limited due to space

Buses will provide transportation for those students who qualify and masks must be worn on bus

 

If you opt out for remote instruction:

Your student will be assigned a grade level or content teacher to access their learning from home.

Your student will be assigned a district Chromebook. A reliable internet connection provided by a parent/guardian is essential.

Your student will be responsible for meeting their teachers’ communication and participation expectations. This could mean attending a class remotely on a schedule from home.

Remote learning will be more rigorous and engaging including full grading of homework and assessments, which is different than remote learning last spring.

 

Special considerations:

Any student needing English language learner or special education services will have those services provided to the best ability of the school district regardless of which option is selected.

Athletic and extra-curricular policies are still being determined as additional guidelines are released.

At this time, any student who opts for remote learning will stay in remote learning for the entirety of the first trimester (November 6) for grades PreK to 8th Grade and for the first semester for RTHS (December 23).

For more detailed information, read the rest of the full Rochelle Schools Reopening Plan.

Keep in mind, if the district has an opt out rate lower than 25%, the district must create an alternative plan for the fall as we cannot transport and educate this many students each day and still follow current ISBE and IDPH guidelines.

 

NEXT STEPS FOR PARENTS

Parents must complete this survey form for each child in your home as soon as possible so that the district can move forward with planning. By July 17th, parents need to complete the form that was sent by email.

Starting on July 20th, we will start actively calling parents to encourage them to complete the form or to complete the form over the phone while talking with us.

Failure to complete the form/answer our calls will result in your student being placed in the ‘opting in to in-person instruction’ for next school year.

 

UNDERSTANDING, PATIENCE, & FLEXIBILITY

As a school district, we ask for your continued understanding, patience, and flexibility during this most challenging time.

The Rochelle School districts have worked diligently to create and implement the best plan possible considering current guidance from ISBE and IDPH, along with feedback from parents.

It is important to note that the Rochelle Schools will plan for a 25% opt out rate. This is a much lower rate than our survey results indicate, but by planning for more students to choose in person learning, we build in more safeguards and procedures for students and staff in our buildings.

In the event that our survey data from the first week of July has changed, and by that we mean the school has less than 25% of our students opting for remote learning, both districts reserve the right to greatly modify our plan. In this event, we would most likely move to an alternating day schedule to accommodate almost all of our students attending class in person yet adhere to social distancing guidelines. Dividing students up will be a challenge, but we most likely would divide students by last name (Hypothetically: A-L go to school on Mon/Weds, M-Z go on Tu/Thurs, and Friday could rotate or be all online). We will make this known in our communication plan and act as quickly as possible when we have all of our parents’ choices declared.

Students, parents, and community members must also understand that the Rochelle Schools may need to go to 100% remote learning for a wide variety of reasons. Some include:

The Governor of Illinois moves Illinois or our region into phases 1-3 of the Reopen Illinois plan

Community or district experiences the spread of COVID-19

The district has too many students ill/symptomatic/quarantining and is unable to host students

The district has too many teachers or staff ill/symptomatic/quarantining and is unable to teach students

The district has too many bus drivers ill/symptomatic/quarantining and is unable to transport students.

See the Wednesday edition of the News-Leader for more information.