Superintendent Kyle Repucci would like to share information about changes to the Rochester Public Schools’ reopening model that will be put in place for the upcoming holiday season.
On Thursday, Oct. 29, the School Board voted to adopt a Holiday Quarantine Model that will be put in place for 28 days after the Thanksgiving break. This change accounts for a continuity of learning for those who may need to quarantine if families travel or have members visit during that time; ensures that staffing levels will remain adequate for all schools; and additionally serves as a preventive measure against spread of all communicable diseases, including the flu and cold, which are typical for this time of year.
The change is also a proactive step to protect the health and safety of students, staff and their families as the number of reported cases of COVID-19 continue to rise both in Rochester and the surrounding areas.
Based on the current reopening plan, families are asked to quarantine for 14 days after traveling out of an abundance of caution and students are provided remote learning opportunities during that time. This would mean that students who travel for Thanksgiving would need to quarantine until Monday, Dec. 14 and would only have a week of in-person learning before leaving again for Christmas break. Should they travel during Christmas, students would need to participate in remote learning once again.
Rather than have students switch between remote and in-person learning during the holidays, students will participate in fully-remote learning from Monday, Nov. 30 until Tuesday, January 19.
Students will not have school on Monday, Nov. 23 and Tuesday, Nov. 24, as these will now be teacher workshop days to allow for staff to finalize their plans for the remote learning period.
There will be an opportunity for some students — including those with multiple education services, who have intensive adult support or whose educational plans cannot be met outside of the school setting — to receive remote instruction or services at a school if needed. These students will be contacted by their school’s administration no later than Friday, Nov. 6.
Surveys to gauge technology and food needs will be sent to all district families in the near future. Free meals for all students in the community will be provided and available for pick-up during the remote learning period. The district is also exploring the options available for meals to be delivered to students as well as alternative pick up locations throughout the community.
Additional information will be sent out in the coming weeks.
“Knowing that this holiday season may present more challenges than years prior, we worked to create a temporary change to our model as a proactive step to help protect the health and safety of our entire community,” Superintendent Repucci said. “This remains our utmost priority as we monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19. We are continuing to flesh out the model, including incorporating much of the feedback we received about remote learning in the spring, and will provide families with more information as soon as it is available.”
“It was important for the Rochester Federation of Teachers and Paraprofessionals to have a seat at the table during the discussions for the Holiday Quarantine Model,” Rochester Federation of Teachers and Paraprofessionals President President Carrie Feyler said. “Three Para-educator members and the RFT Executive Board worked to address as many issues as possible to make whatever model is used for learning in Rochester be as productive as possible for our students and keep our community safe.”
Knowing that this model could present issues for some families, the district sought out community partners to provide childcare for those individuals over the course of the remote learning period. The Strafford County YMCA will be able to provide child care in the Recreation Building during the remote learning period and further information about how to utilize that service will be sent home to families in the near future.
The district is working with other community organizations to create additional childcare options for families. Information about those options will be sent home when available.