Right now I have one kid screaming for joy and another completely bummed at the latest news from the school district in Rochester, Minnesota.  The reason - Rochester Public Schools just announced that they are temporarily moving to distance learning.

Rochester Public Schools Starting Distance Learning on Tuesday, January 18th

Below is the letter that was just sent out to families in the Rochester Public School District:

The purpose of this message is to inform you that I have reached the difficult decision to temporarily transition our school district to distance learning for all students beginning on Tuesday, January 18 and extending through Friday, January 28, 2022. My primary reason for taking this step is not (as might have been expected) the spread of COVID-19 among students in our schools, as our most recent data confirms that our efforts to mitigate the number of Rochester Public Schools students who test positive for COVID have been successful. The percentages of RPS students who have tested positive for COVID is lower than 10% in all of our schools and lower than 5% in most of our schools despite the significant increase in cases that has occurred in our community due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus.

However, the impact of the Omicron variant on staff absences make it impossible to run our schools and programs safely and effectively amidst the current surge of the virus in our community. Currently, 50% of our school buildings are experiencing significant staff shortages, including teachers, transportation drivers, school nurses, maintenance staff, and paraprofessionals. Our school district team and I considered transitioning only those school buildings with high staff shortages to distance learning rather than all schools in the district, but the likelihood of further increases in the percentages of our staff who are absent due to COVID in our other schools and programs led to the decision to make the shift for the district as a whole. We consulted closely with our building principals in this decision and I am grateful for their input and their leadership.

I hope and expect that this transition to distance learning will last only for the two week period that is being announced this evening. Our plan is to return to and remain in-person learning at the conclusion of this period, during which most experts predict we will see the rapid rise and then fall in COVID case rates in our community.

You will find below more information on the implications of this transition. Please review it carefully.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we make a transition that I know many of us wanted to avoid but that is in the long-run interest of our students, our staff, and our schools. -  Kent Pekel, Ed.D., Interim Superintedent, Rochester Public Schools

Kim David/Townsquare Media
Kim David/Townsquare Media

Timeline and Calendar Info for Families

  • Thursday, January 13: Students report to school
  • Friday, January 14: Students report to school
  • Monday, January 17: MLK Jr. Holiday, students do not have school
  • Tuesday, January 18 - Thursday, January 20: Students learn through Distance Learning
  • Friday, January 21: Students do not have school. This is a scheduled teacher workday due to the end of the semester.
  • Monday, January 24 - Friday, January 28: Students learn through Distance Learning
Healthy food for kids
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Free meal kits will be available again for families in the Rochester Public School district

Weekly meal kits will be available for free for families and will contain heat-and-serve and -ready-to-eat entrees, fruits, vegetables, and milk for Rochester Public School students.  You don't need to register for these and can pick the meals up weekly at a drive-through location at Graham Park Fairgrounds in Building #35 on January 19th and 26th.

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School-Age Child Care will continue to be available for Rochester families that are already enrolled.

For families that have already enrolled in SACC, this child care service will still be available.  Students should bring their devices to SACC so they can participate in their classes.  More information will be coming to families regarding registration.

Curious kid boy secretly watching forbidden censored content on laptop
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Parents, how are your kids handling the news that distance learning is back?

Better question...how are YOU handling this?  Let me know over on my Facebook page - Jessica On The Radio.  I'll be honest, it is NOT going well at my house right now.  Thankfully we've got a few days to adjust before this all starts.  But I do anticipate that my kids will stay in their pj's all day.  100%.

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