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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester Public Schools will be shifting to all distance learning next week.

The School District issued a statement this afternoon to announce that pre-K through 12th-grade students will all be using distance learning for instruction starting Wednesday. Middle school and high school students in the Rochester School District have been using distance learning since the beginning of the school year but pre-K through 5th-grade instruction has been taking place using the hybrid model that provided for in-person classes two days each week for each student.

The school system's pre-K through 5th-grade students and K-8 students at the Lincoln choice school will not have class next Tuesday or Wednesday to allow teachers and other staff to prepare for the shift.  Middle, High School, and Transition-age Special Education students who are currently receiving in-person instruction, Newcomers classes at the Middle and High schools, and Middle School Right Fit participants will also not have close the first two days of next week.

The change will also require the cancelation of the school district's athletic and all other extracurricular activities that cannot take place virtually. 

The school district had previously indicated it would be making an announcement around November 23rd concerning possible instructional changes amid the pandemic and cited data that shows COVID-19 activity in the community rapidly moving in the wrong direction in making the decision to accelerate the schedule. School officials say the most current 14 day running average shows the incidence of COVID-19 infections and Olmsted County has risen to over 65 per 10,000 residents. The guidance previously released by the Minnesota Department of Education states that a 14 day running average above 50 infections per 10,000 residents requires a move to all distance learning.

The use of all distance learning will remain in effect through January 8th unless the conditions improve enough to warrant earlier action.

Superintendent Michael Munoz is scheduled to appear Friday morning on the Rochester Today Show on News Talk 1340 KROC-AM and 96.9 FM starting right after the news at 11 AM.

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