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COVID-19 Advisory Team Update on Vaccinations, Secondary Schedules, Returning to In-Person Learning.
Rochester Public Schools

On Thursday, February 18, the District's COVID-19 Advisory Team met to discuss yesterday's announcement regarding changes in the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan, vaccinations updates, and the secondary students' schedule.

 

As a reminder, the COVID-19 Advisory Team consists of the Superintendent, members of the School Board and Cabinet, union leadership, District COVID-19 team members, and officials from Olmsted County Public Health and Mayo Clinic.

There are a few updates we'd like to share with you:

  1. Vaccinations. Rochester Public Schools is responsible for providing opportunities for vaccinations. Currently, RPS has been able to offer 1,500 opportunities for staff. This is nearly half of our staff. The District is unable to determine how many staff members have received the vaccine due to data privacy.  
  2. Secondary Schedules. We have been discussing both block schedules and an 8-period day at the high school. The conversation around both schedules involved teacher support, student and family desires, and mitigation efforts to keep all students safe in either schedule. Your middle and/or high school administration will be sending parents a mid-year registration email detailing the school schedule and asking you to confirm your student's participation in one of two learning models: in-person or distance learning. 
  3. Returning to In-Person. Yesterday, Governor Walz shared his expectation that all schools offer some in-person instruction beginning March 8, unless a district has already released their learning plan prior to February 17, 2021. At the February 2, School Board meeting the Board voted to return PreK-grade 5 students all in person beginning on March 1 and to return all secondary students in person on April 5. The School Board will revisit this conversation on March 2 during their regularly scheduled business meeting. You can watch this meeting live at Youtube.com/ISD535. 

We appreciate your understanding and patience. We know this is one of the most challenging times for our students, families, and staff. We cannot underscore the importance of keeping our community healthy and safe. Our website offers information on our mitigation strategies and much more. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to review the supports offered to students and parents/guardians.


On February 17, Minnesota’s Deputy Commissioner of Education, Heather Mueller, announced an update to the Safe Learning Plan. This plan was updated to align more closely with CDC guidance.

We will be reviewing this guidance thoroughly and discussing this with our COVID-19 Advisory Team, which consists of the Superintendent, members of the School Board and Cabinet, union leadership, District COVID-19 team members, and officials from Olmsted County Public Health and Mayo Clinic. Our team will meet tomorrow afternoon.

Our priority remains to return all of our children to school full time while keeping our staff and students safe. As guidelines evolve, we will continue to follow the science and ensure that we put our community, education professionals, and students in the best possible place during this pandemic and these historic times.

As a reminder, the most recent School Board decisions about RPS Learning Models:

  • PreK and Elementary School: Return to in-person learning model PreK - Grade 5 on March 1
  • Middle and High School: Return to in-person learning model Grades 6 - 12 on April 5

We know these are challenging times, and we sincerely appreciate your support, patience, and partnership in education.

Sincerely,

Rochester Public Schools