Rockford, Illinois News

Back to School: RPS 205 announces plan for 2020-21

ROCKFORD – Rockford families will have a choice between in-person or remote learning for 2020-21 academic year, district officials announced Thursday.

Students who chose in-person instruction, classes will be conducted within health and safety guidelines outlined by the Illinois State Board of Education, Winnebago County Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC. Guidelines include masks and social distancing whenever possible.

Remote learning will be available five days a week. However, those choosing that option must commit through winter break 

While remote learning is open to all students, officials say it will serve some students better to consider in-person instruction if possible.

“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,” Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett said. “Having a face-to-face, personal connection will help ensure a solid transition and additional support during this difficult school year.”

Jarrett said students in the 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. For elementary students, 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 last spring, Jarrett added, for families who choose full-time remote instruction. For 2020-21, remove elementary attendance will be tracked, and students must engage in five 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 (K-5)

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,” Jarrett said. “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.

Specific online applications will be used to assist with connecting with teachers and learning materials, such as Google Classroom, Seesaw and Nearpod.

Middle and high school students (6-12)

Middle school and high school students 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,” Jarrett said. “Transportation will be provided for in-person instruction.

Middle and 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.

Middle and high school attendance will be tracked, and students must be engaged in five 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.

In situations where courses cannot be offered remotely, counselors will work with families to ensure academic schedules meet students’ needs.

Meals will provided for remote and in-person students. 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.

School begins Sept. 1.

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