On April 23, Governor Walz extended Distance Learning through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) defines Distance Learning as Students engaging in distance learning have access to appropriate educational materials and receive daily interaction with their licensed teacher(s).
It is Rochester Public Schools’ goal for students to continue to learn during this DL period. Students are expected to be connecting each day, interacting with their teacher, and engaging in learning. We understand that this new format may create a challenge for some families. We are here to support you, and we encourage you to do the best you can, given the resources and time you have.
Your child's social and emotional well-being is important to us. Our teachers, administrators, counselors, and social workers are here to support you and your children. Do not hesitate to reach out to your child's teacher and/or building principal if you are in need of academic or social and emotional assistance. Each school has resource phone numbers for academic and basic need supports.
This is a work in progress. Schools across the globe are fundamentally shifting the way we educate children. In Minnesota, we are developing new systems in less than two weeks. The shift to distance learning will require patience, understanding, support, and forgiveness for all involved.
- Student Access to Appropriate Educational Materials
- Daily Interaction
- Mental Health and Social-Emotional Learning
- Students with an IEP and 504 Plans
- Internet Access
- Meal Distribution
- Community Partnership
- English Learners
- Early Learning
- Assessment of Learning
- Communication with Families
- Tribal Communities
- Needs of Staff
- Attendance of Students and Staff
- Monitoring the Distance Learning Plan
All Rochester Public Schools have taken steps to meet the needs of its staff and students. Students without access to a device at home are being loaned a device (Chromebook, iPad, laptop, desktop) from the District. Each school has distributed devices to families in need. Individual school administrators worked with individual families with barriers to picking up technology.
The District has leveraged education-specific platforms for our teachers to use in DL, such as Google Suite for Education and Moodle. Both are compliant with Federal laws regarding student data privacy. Individual lesson plans will be communicated by each student’s teacher.
We will follow School Board Policy 524 and continue to follow all privacy regulations.
Schools may also have organized paper packets, books, and other educational materials for pick-up or delivery to homes. RPS will continue to utilize our food delivery buses to exchange books and materials with families during the DL period.
Students will receive daily interaction with their licensed teacher(s). Teachers and students are expected to continue with teaching and learning every school day. Teachers may provide lessons in multiple formats:
- Live lessons
- Recorded lessons
- Short and long term projects and activities
Our goal is to connect with all students at least once a day, using the format that has been established by each teacher. Teachers will continue to differentiate lessons, keeping in mind the academic achievement of each student. Paraprofessionals will be working with administrators to connect with students who are not checking in daily with their teacher(s).
We have set up helplines at each school that students and families can call for assistance. Parents will receive information on how to access academic support from their teacher or principal.
RPS will continue to support the mental health and social-emotional needs of our students.
Social Workers and School-Based Mental Health Providers
- For students and/or families that already work with a school-employed provider, we have created plans to continue these services in a DL model.
- General education students and/or families will be contacted by social workers to develop a schedule to provide services based on your preferences.
- Special education students and/or families will be contacted by social workers who are collaborating with your child’s special education case manager to meet your student's IEP goals. Social workers will continue to provide services according to the IEP through direct video contact, phone calls, collaboration with families, or sending home materials.
- Elementary and Middle School counselors will be supporting students by providing social-emotional learning lessons.
- High School Counselors will be working with students regarding graduation requirements, career planning, college entrance, and testing needs.
Addressing bullying requires collaboration between families, teachers, staff, principals, and students.
- Reports of bullying with a connection to school may be made to a building principal via phone or email.
- Prompt attention and investigation of an alleged bullying incident shall be initiated as soon as possible, and completed in a timely manner.
- Every effort will be made to protect students from the negative impacts of bullying in the DL environment.
Resource Help Line
We have created numerous ways to access support for students and families that may have mental health needs arise or increase during this time of uncertainty.
Resource line for counselors and social workers are provide for each school below:
|Early Childhood||(507) 328-4974|
|Bamber Valley||(507) 328-4951|
|Churchill | Hoover||(507) 328-4960|
|Elton Hills||(507) 328-4955|
|Franklin | Montessori at Franklin||(507) 328-4954|
|Sunset Terrace||(507) 328-4953|
|John Adams||(507) 328-4964|
|Willow Creek||(507) 328-4965|
|John Marshall||(507) 328-4959|
|Phoenix | RAIL | Middle School Right Fit||(507) 328-4973|
Students on an Individual Education Program (IEP) and 504 plan will still receive services.
Individual Education Program (IEP)
Special education teachers will work in collaboration with parents to write an addendum to the current IEP to ensure the continuity of services. Related services will also be considered through the addendum process. Special education case managers will continue to provide instruction to address individual IEP goals using a variety of platforms. Such platforms include Google Classroom, Seesaw, Class Dojo, text, email, and phone calls to ensure that services are provided to address the goals in the IEP.
Case managers will communicate with parents regarding the specific plan for their child. General education and special education teachers will collaborate to implement the accommodations and modifications necessary to access instruction.
Special education paraprofessionals will continue to support students with their special education and general education learning with individual and student-specific plans.
For students with 504 plans, accommodations listed in the current plan will be implemented during DL as appropriate. The 504 Specialist will provide additional information if changes are necessary to the plan.
We will help guide families with limited or no access to free resources being made available during this emergency situation.
The District has partnered with non-profit organizations such as the Rochester Area Youth Tech Foundation to offer laptops and hotspots.
Free Wifi is available in the parking lot 24/7 at the following locations:
- Bishop Elementary
- Elton Hills Elementary
- Franklin Elementary
- Gage Elementary
- Jefferson Elementary
- Longfellow Elementary
- Riverside Elementary
- Sunset Terrace Elementary
- Washington Elementary
- John Adams Middle School
- Willow Creek Middle School
- Mayo High School
Wifi is also available at our mobile resource centers from 11:00 AM-12:30 PM each day:
- Oak Terrace/Parkside
- Homestead Village
- Meadow Park
- Pax Christi Church
- Evangel United Methodist
- Willow Ridge
- Zumbro Ridge Estates
Wireless Internet is also available at warming shelters and outside the Rochester Public Library and Rochester Public School Buildings.
Federal Communications Commission agreement states that internet and telephone providers will waive late fees, will not cut-off service for lack of payment, and open hot-spots to any American who needs them.
- Comcast COVID-19 response: is offering free WiFi for 60 days, all Xfinity hotspots are free, unlimited data, and flexible payment plans with no disconnect or late fees during this time.
- Charter Spectrum: is offering free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
- AT&T COVID-19 response: is offering open hot-spots and unlimited data to existing customers. There are options for $10/month plans to low income families, and no disconnect or late fees in the next 60 days.
- Verizon COVID-19 response: is waiving late fees for 60 days from March 16- May 13, and will not terminate service through April 30. Verizon will offer unlimited domestic calling to customers on limited-minute plans, and waive activation fees on new lines and upgrades.
- Sprint COVID-19 response: is providing unlimited data for 60 days to customers with metered data plans, giving 20 GB of free mobile hotspot to customers with hotspot-capable devices, and waiving per-minute toll charges for international calls from the U.S. to CDC- defined Level 3 countries.
- T-Mobile COVID-19 response: is offering all current customers on legacy plans unlimited high-speed data, customers on smartphone plans with hotspot data will receive an additional 20GB of smartphone mobile hotspot, and free international calling.
Meal Services will be available Weekdays from 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM.
Meals will consist of a cold lunch with breakfast included for the next day. Lunches are intended to be eaten immediately or should be stored in the refrigerator within 2 hours.
- Riverside Elementary 506 5th Ave SE, Front entrance drop-off loop
- Willow Creek Middle School 2425 11th Avenue SE, North Auditorium Entrance
- John Adams Middle School 1525 31st St NW, Door 9 located on the NE side of the building
- Sunset Terrace Elementary School, 1707 19th Avenue NW, Main Entrance
- Mayo High School, 1420 11th Ave SE, Door 2C located by the staff parking lot near tennis courts
- Gage Elementary School
- Longfellow-Bus Lot
- Pinewood-Front Lot
- Franklin-NW Corner of Lot
- Elton Hills-SW Side of Lot
- Jefferson-South Side of School
- Bishop-Bus Zone
- Washington-North Side of School
- Oak Terrace/Parkside-Park Lane
- Homestead Village-HV Lane, North of curve (11:55-12:30 PM)
- Andover Apts. -8 1/2 street (11:00-11:45 AM)
- Willow Ridge-Storm Shelter
- Weatherstone-Weatherstone Dr. @ trail head
- Pax Christi Church- Between Pax/Firestation
- Zumbro Ridge Estates-Near bus shelter
- Meadow Park-4th Ave & 14th Street
- Evangel United Methodist-North Lot
For more information, view our Meal Service Flyer.
The Nonprofit Consortium, a collaboration of community wide leaders from nonprofit, government, and private sectors are working to create a systematized approach to our communities needs. Please use the trusted resources found below to access the service you need.
Our district bilingual staff have connected with all families needing translation and/or interpretation. Ongoing contact with each family will occur. Bilingual staff are also recording videos to be sent out and posted sharing important information. Parents and guardians can call for language services when they have questions.
English Language (EL) Teachers are expected to confer, create individual goals, provide feedback, and monitor student progress. EL Teachers will conference with students on their caseload once per week, either 1:1 or in a small group setting (synchronous or asynchronous).
Individual EL teachers are using Talking Points, Seesaw, Remind, Google Classroom, text messages, and phone calls to reach families. Learning Menus will be posted in SeeSaw and/or Google classroom with corresponding activities. Activities will be connected to standards and include the four domains of language.
EL and General Educational teachers will meet electronically once per week for direct teacher collaboration, which will include planning for differentiation, scaffolding, and modification of assignments to meet students’ needs.
The RPS EL Implementation Associate will be providing professional development opportunities weekly for EL and General Education teachers to access via Google Meet, Flipgrid, and Google Classroom. The topics will include student discussion using Flipgrid and Swirl for language success, accommodations and modifications for English Learners, and going visual.
As required by McKinney-Vento Law, RPS will continue to conduct outreach and supportive tracking of students experiencing homelessness through the Students In Transition (SIT) Program. Staff work to provide access to educational resources and to assist in removing barriers to a full educational experience. The identification of homelessness remains active throughout the school year so that all students have the support they need to successfully complete each academic year.
The SIT team makes proactive contact with students experiencing homelessness through calls, emails, texts, and face-to-face visits. Additionally, outreach resources have been delivered to local warming centers, shelters, and food distribution sites.
The Students In Transition Program participates in daily calls with the local Homeless Community Network team and a local non-profit consortium. During these calls, resources are discussed so that providers know how to best distribute needed supports. The Students In Transition team has also created a DL questionnaire, which includes topics of basic needs, which families and youth are able to request support from RPS.
To meet the needs of our students experiencing homelessness and to accommodate the requirement of DL, the Students In Transition Program is proactively reaching out to students and families to provide support with issues like technology, food concerns, and other basic needs. For questions regarding this program or if you and your student are experiencing homelessness, please call Melissa Brandt at (507) 328-4230.
Early Childhood/RPS Preschool services, including Early Childhood Special Education/Early Intervention, will be provided through individualized, developmentally appropriate activities that focus on the following:
- Family routines
- Creative play
- Real-life exploration
- Physical activity
- Outdoor experiences
- Story time
- Social interactions
Early childhood staff has focused their planning on providing opportunities for interaction between children and adults, and carefully chosen lessons and materials because this is the way that young children learn best.
- Preschool teachers will be sharing weekly overviews and daily lesson plans.
- Families will be able to return work to teachers in various ways.
- Home visits for families in early intervention will continue through remote connections to focus on family routines.
Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE/PAiiR) will provide support for learning at home. Parenting information will be delivered virtually every week. These activities will be available for pick-up or delivery each week.
Early Childhood Screening will resume appointments for 3-5-year-olds when school resumes. If you have not scheduled your child’s screening appointment, you can reach our staff at (507) 328-4004 to set one up.
RPS will continue to assess the learning of our students during DL by:
- Ensuring that timelines are flexible and that students have plenty of time to complete the work assigned.
- Ensuring that students know which standards they are working on and why.
- Focusing on providing time for practice and giving students feedback.
- Ensuring that students know which tasks are graded and not graded. We will not grade everything, rather we will focus on providing feedback to let students know how they are progressing.
- Ensuring that students are given the opportunity to interact with their teachers each day to get questions answered.
- Focusing on what is most essential in the course. Teachers will use the MN State Standards to help plan instruction.
- Providing different ways to check for student understanding beyond traditional tests. This may include writing, online discussion, submitting video reflections or explanations, and other performance-based assessments.
- Assigning final grades at the end of the school year.
2019-20 Statewide Assessments/Testing
Minnesota has closed statewide assessments for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, including MCA and MTAS. The U.S. Department of Education has approved a waiver to Minnesota for the federally mandated standardized statewide assessments, accountability, and reporting requirements due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Learn more about the waiver issued by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Grading Practices for Distance Learning
The move to Distance Learning (DL) has created the need for students, families, and teachers to make many adjustments. These adjustments have come with many successes, but also many challenges. We acknowledge the high-level of stress Distance Learning has caused for some of our students, families, and staff. With this in mind the following grading practices have been developed for the Distance Learning period. These practices were developed with feedback from teachers and administrators to consider the needs of all students, including our English Learners, homeless, and students with varying access to digital learning and other tools or materials. Please see below for detailed information about each level.
DISTRICT-WIDE GRADING PRACTICE
- Students should be held harmless for spring grades. In other words, students should not receive a lower grade than those they were already on track to receive before Distance Learning began.
- No student at any level will be retained for the following school year due only to Distance Learning in the Spring of 2020. Graduating seniors will need 24 credits to graduate.
- Per Minnesota Department of Education guidelines, the following message will appear on every report card: Grades that are documented during the time period of March 16 through June 30 of 2020 reflect the distance learning period resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Future use of these grades for academic placement, admission, acceleration, or remediation is discouraged and should only be used with caution after balancing the information against student performance in other grading periods.
ELEMENTARY GRADING PRACTICE
- A DL (Distance Learning) column has been added to the Report Card. Teachers will mark one of the following for each standard:
- M - Met Standard
- N/G - Standard Not Graded
- DL - Teacher does not have sufficient evidence to know if Standard was met
- Teachers will provide comments to reflect on student learning during DL.
SECONDARY (GRADES 6-12) GRADING PRACTICE
- Due to the uncertainty of the impact on college admission, NCAA eligibility, scholarships, and many things beyond the scope of our control, teachers will grade students using modified grading practices during Distance Learning.
- Students will earn one of the following letter grades for 2nd Semester:
- A, B, Pass or No Credit (NC)
- Grades of A and B will be figured into GPA, weighted, GPA, and class rank.
- A grade of P or NC counts as neutral (no impact) in GPA, weighted GPA, and class rank.
- If a student receives a B, and prefers to take a Pass, they may do so by contacting their counselor. Parent/Guardian approval via phone or email is required.
- If a No Credit (NC) mark is in consideration for a student, the teacher, counselor, and administrator will need to discuss this option and documentation will be reviewed before making this determination.
- For students in 7th and 8th grade quarter classes, the quarter teachers will use the same grading scale as above. The No Credit (NC) mark will be reserved for those students who haven’t engaged in any way during the DL period, and after multiple attempts to engage them.
- There will be no cumulative final exams during the DL period.
- High School course credit will be awarded based on students earning an A, B, or Pass.
- Students who are enrolled in an honors class and receive an A, B, or Pass will receive honors credit toward the honors diploma.
- Graduating seniors will need 24 credits to graduate. If seniors have questions on their credit status, they are encouraged to reach out to their school counselor.
RPS will collaborate with schools, teachers, departments, and teams to plan for the 2020-2021 school year and determine what students might have missed in the Spring of 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Distance Learning. These revised grading practices have been put in place for the remainder of this academic year.
Determining how to modify our grading system to meet student needs during this pandemic is something that has required a considerable amount of research, collaboration, and gathering of feedback. We realize that our students and parents are accustomed to our current grading system, but we cannot have the same standards and expectations during this unexpected Distance Learning period, as there are many factors that are not in our control.
The grading practices shared here are subject to Rochester Public School Board approval on May 19, 2020.
- The perspectives and experiences of our families are reflected in the variety of ways the District and individual schools are reaching out to parents.
- Communications and updates regarding Distance Learning are provided via Skylert, Skyward, District website, school websites, emails from School Administrators, emails from teachers, phone calls, and text messages from School Administrators and teachers, as well as posts on social media.
- In cases where families are not responding to these methods of communications, school staff who may have a relationship with the family will make contact or enlist community resources for support.
- Our District Bilingual staff will continue to make personal contact with all families who speak a language other than English.
- All Bilingual staff will use multiple platforms to communicate with staff and will continue to monitor their emails. Staff will request Bilingual Services when needed for communication with parents/guardians.
- Bilingual staff have recorded YouTube videos in several languages to enhance messaging to our families who do not speak English.
- We have messaged expectations and general information around Distance Learning to all families via email, voicemail, text, Facebook, District Website (parent portal), Twitter, and local media outlets.
- Our main platforms for instruction are Google Suite for Education and Moodle as well as SeeSaw for some primary grades at the Elementary level.
The RPS Native American Liaison and school personnel will check in with each of our native students to make sure that they have the necessary access to learning. Our Liaison will continue to provide multiple ways for accessing cultural curriculum during DL (e.g. websites or printed handouts for Dakota and Ojibwe language learning).
Additionally, our Liaison works closely with our American Indian Parent Advisory Committee to hear from and advocate for native students. She is currently working on the best way to connect with this committee virtually during DL.
Along with individual calls, our Liaison sends a regular newsletter to Native students and their families and will continue to use this format during DL. Regan Kluver, American Indian Liaison, maintains regular work hours and will be available through phone (507) 328-4335, email and Google Meets.
We continue to maintain strong community partnerships during this time of DL.
- Channel One Food Bank
- City of Rochester
- Cradle to Career
- Family Service Rochester
- Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association
- Leadership Greater Rochester
- Mayo Clinic
- Olmsted County
- Olmsted Medical Center
- Rochester Area Youth Tech Foundation
- Rochester Public Library
- United Way of Olmsted County
- Faith-based partners
- For-profit partners
- And others
Initially, our work has been based around basic needs access (food, toiletries, health, and shelter), technology and technology access, and shared communication.
In addition, RPS Equity Specialists are actively reaching out to individual students and families to check in and identify needs and barriers to learning. Likewise, they are working with school sites to provide support, participating on-site teams to address student and family needs. The Equity Specialist team also maintains weekly team calls to check-in and connect across assigned buildings.
Community School Site Facilitators:
Community School Site Facilitators at our four community school sites are connecting with community partners, school staff (including social workers, counselors, equity specialists, administration, teachers), bilingual interpreters, and students and families to identify needs and resolve issues. They are conducting home drops of materials, participating in collaborative teams that are focusing on our most vulnerable students. Finally, they continue to work on our community schools' needs assessments, which are pulling data from a variety of places and sources to inform each site of prioritized need(s) as we move forward into the next school year.
- The District will continue to provide frequent communication with all staff through the Superintendent and Communications Department.
- Instructional coaches and administration will continue to provide ongoing guidance to instructional staff regarding distance learning and expectations.
- Teachers will continue to participate in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Instructional coaches and principals will continue to support these efforts.
- The District has created an Employee Resource Line where staff can receive support in the areas of emotional wellness and referral to services. The phone line will be staffed by clinical mental health staff and will assist staff with accessing services needed during this difficult time.
Staff members’ children Kindergarten through Age 12, who are enrolled in RPS, are eligible to register for Emergency Child Care at rochesterschools.org/COVID19.
- Attendance will be measured by daily checks with students and by monitoring student participation in instruction.
- Other means of checking attendance for younger students will be communicated to parents via the classroom teacher.
- In cases where families are not responding to these methods of communications, school staff will make contact or enlist community resources for support.
- When a staff member is absent, they will continue to enter their absences as usual, along with contacting their students (if applicable) and their building/department administrator.
- Staff will continue to monitor the number of students that have the necessary technology, time, and support to participate in DL.
- High School and Middle School students will be asked to provide feedback on a regular basis regarding their level of understanding of expectations regarding work assignments.
- Parents of Elementary School students will be asked to provide feedback on a regular basis regarding their child’s level of understanding of expectations regarding work assignments.
- Teachers will provide feedback on the strengths and challenges of the DL plan.