Rockford School District releases back-to-school family handbook

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Rockford Public School District released a family handbook on Wednesday to give parents an idea of what to expect school will look like this year.

As Illinois is still in Phase 4 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s 5-phase Restore Illinois plan during the coronavirus pandemic, schools have given families the option of in-classroom or remote learning.

RPS 205 is letting parents decide how their student will learn this fall.

“No matter what modality a family chooses, whether it’s face-to-face, blended, or whether it’s a virtual decision, we are going to be prepared to meet the needs of those students,” explained RPS Superintendent Dr. Ehren Jarrett.

Regardless, middle and high school students will be at home three days a week. In-person learning will either be Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. District leaders say students who opt for full-time remote learning should expect a different experience than in the spring.

“There’s going to be elements of real-time learning, that we call synchronous learning, where students can be meeting with teachers or other students online through a video conference, but there will also be elements of asynchronous learning, which means they’ll be doing it on their own,” explained RPS’s Executive Director of Curriculum Ben Epperson.

Epperson says online lessons will use different digital programs depending on the grade. For early childhood and pre-k, it’s See-saw.

“It’s a tool for families to kind of communicate a two-way street with teachers. So video, audio recordings, things like that, become really robust, which is really important for our little kiddos because so much of the assessment and the progress monitoring has to do with observation,” Epperson added.

“We also feel really confident about our ability to offer blended or face-to-face options. And in many cases, we feel our most vulnerable students, in particular our kindergarteners, first, second, third graders, younger students, students that have extra needs, English as second language learners are going to really benefit from that face-to-face option,” Dr. Jarrett added.

RPS says it is prioritizing transportation for families who have no other option to get to school, and will be implementing capacity limits on bus seating.

Teachers who return to the classroom will be required to wear masks and face shields during the school day, and students are required to wear masks.

There will be no field trips, no visitors, no assemblies, or social groups. Classes may be moved outdoors when possible, and teachers may rotate through classrooms instead of students moving from classroom to classroom during the school day.

Physical education will still take place, with social distancing and capacity guidelines observed.

Remote learning students will have their attendance tracked, and must be engaged in 5 hours of learning each day. The daily instruction will come from a variety of guided recordings and virtual meetings.

Families who qualify for Comcast Internet Essentials can purchase monthly access for $9.95, and RPS says it is working with families meeting certain criteria to cover the costs of the service.

The full handbook is available here.

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