COLD SPRING – ROCORI students in all grade levels are getting ready to return to their classrooms.

The district will reinstate in-person learning for grades 10-12 beginning on Tuesday – and for the first time this year, all of the district’s students will be in the same learning model at the same time.

ROCORI, like all districts, has been tasked with the challenge of toggling back and forth between learning models in response to county-supplied COVID-19 case rate data.

“We started this year with hybrid learning for our 7th through 12th graders,” said Brad Kelvington, ROCORI Superintendent. “We did start in-person for grades K through 6, but around MEA, we switched grade 6 to hybrid. Then, in December, we moved to distance learning, and all grades did some form of distance learning until January 11, when we brought our preschool and kindergarten back in-person.

“So, we slow-rolled into a distance learning model, and then we slow-rolled back into the in-person model,” he added.

ROCORI works with a third party vendor to provide distance learning – which will be an option through the end of the year for students who do not want to return to their classrooms, Kelvington says.

Kelvington says one of the biggest challenges of the school year has been keeping students and their families well informed of any changes being made to learning models.

“Families got a monthly calendar, knowing it could change at any time,” Kelvington said. “And that’s really hard on families, but I think we were pretty lucky that we were able to stay in those (learning models) for at least a solid month.”

Kelvington says ROCORI was able to ease the burden on families a bit in December by implementing 1:1 technology for secondary students.

“All of our 6-12 grade students got a Mac Book Air,” he said. “So, we went from farming out our devices to families who needed it when they were at home to our students now having a 1:1 device they didn’t have before. So, our students and our staff learned a new platform on a new device – because we used to be on PC and now we’re in the Mac world.”

“The learning curves have been steep, and our students and staff have really stepped up,” he added. “The flexibility, the innovation, and dealing with the constant change it feels like we’re putting them through. They have been just amazing.”

Kelvington can’t say for certain how many ROCORI teachers and staff members have opted to receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot, but he says all of the approximately 400 district employees have had the chance to get one.

“I can tell you that our staff has been given the opportunity through the state, our county partners and CentraCare,” Kelvington said. “I would say, at this point, all staff members have been given the opportunity to receive at least the first dose and then get scheduled for the second dose.”

That includes substitute teachers and contracted bus drivers, Kelvington said.

“Really, anyone who comes into contact with any of our students during the day,” he said.

Kelvington says the district implemented a variety of safety measures at the beginning of the year, and will continue to follow the same protocols come Tuesday.

“All students are temperature checked,” he said. “We’re asking families to make sure (students) are healthy when they leave the house. We’ve hired additional cleaning staff to clean high-touch areas. We also spread out as much as we can during lunch – and we’re actually part of our gymnasium in our secondary school for lunch.”

“And of course, masking and washing hands are two very important strategies for us,” he added. “Our staff has modeled that behavior, and our students are doing a great job.”

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