Archives for August 2020
School Board Approves Changes to Starting Day Schedule, Additional Remote Learning Options
Superintendent Kyle Repucci would like to share changes to the district’s reopening plan for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.
New staggered start dates and a supplemental remote learning program for students were approved at the Rochester School Board’s meeting on Thursday, Aug. 13.
“We understand what a challenging time this is for students, families and staff alike, and we are working tirelessly to ensure that students can begin the school year as seamlessly and safely as possible,” Superintendent Repucci said. “I urge everyone to be mindful of the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, and to exercise patience as we transition to this temporary new normal.”
The new staggered schedule will split up the first day of school. The specific first days will now be:
- For all elementary schools in the district:
- Wednesday, Sept. 9 for students in kindergarten through second grade only.
- Thursday, Sept. 10 for students in third through fifth grades only.
- Students participating in in-person learning will all attend school together starting Friday, Sept. 11.
- For Rochester Middle school students:
- Wednesday, Sept. 9 for eighth grade students on the Hawaii, Plymouth, Stanford 8 and UNH teams only.
- Thursday, Sept. 10 for the sixth grade students on the Boston College, Colby College, SNHU and Stanford 6 teams only.
- Friday, Sept. 11 for seventh grade and multi-team students on the Boston University, Georgetown, Maine, Texas, Stanford 7, Vermont and Villanova teams only.
- Students participating in in-person learning will all attend school together starting Monday, Sept. 14.
- For Spaulding High School students:
- Wednesday, Sept. 9 for freshman orientation only.
- Thursday, Sept. 10 for seniors only.
- Friday, Sept. 11 for sophomores only.
- Monday, Sept. 14 for juniors only.
- Students participating in in-person learning will all attend school together starting Tuesday, Sept. 15.
A welcome back letter with information about the start of school, including these date changes, will be mailed out to district families in the coming days as well.
The district is also exploring a remote-learning option with Rochester teachers for students to supplement the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) due to the space limits the program faces. Those who have already successfully enrolled in VLACS are not expected to lose their spot in the program.
For elementary school students participating in Rochester’s remote program, their grade level teacher and classmates may be from another elementary school in the district. For middle and high school students, Courseware e-learning technology will be used. These courses have been created by Rochester teachers and Curriculum Coaches, and align to core competencies aligned to each of our courses. A Rochester teacher will facilitate learning with the students assigned to their course.
Families are asked to complete a survey to share their preference for either in-person or remote learning for their students. This survey also allows them to sign up for the supplemental remote learning program. The survey can be found here and must be completed by Friday, Aug. 21.
“We strongly encourage everyone to complete this survey, as it will be vital for our planning process as we prepare for the beginning of the school year,” Superintendent Repucci said. “We will continue to work diligently with staff and the members of the Rochester Teachers Association as we continue to iron out the final details before the start of school next month. Thank you for your understanding and support during this unique time.”
Additionally, outdoor spaces have been identified for learning and recreational activities for students to utilize during the school day to help promote social distancing during the school day. Nurses will also be available at each school in the district rather than shared between schools as they have been in the past.
An opportunity for childcare for all City employees, including those in the district, is available through the Strafford County YMCA. Information on that program and how to sign up will be sent to employees early next week.
The full presentation with the changes approved at the School Board’s Thursday meeting can be found here.
More information about the fall reopening plan can be found here.
Anyone with questions about the reopening fall for the fall are encouraged to reach out to the principals of their student’s school:
- Chamberlain Street School – 603-332-5258
- School Street School – 603-332-6483
- East Rochester School – 603-332-2146
- McClelland School – 603-332-2180
- Gonic School – 603-332-6487
- Nancy Loud – 603-332-6486
- William Allen School – 603-332-2280
- Rochester Middle School – 603-332-4090
- Spaulding High School – 603-332-0757
Here is the live link to the Rochester Public Access channel and the meeting agenda.
We’ve gathered some commonly asked questions to provide you with the latest information regarding our programs. We hope you find these answers helpful as you prepare for the upcoming school year.
Q: Can VLACS be our school’s remote option?
A: We can serve as a supplement to your school’s remote option, hybrid option, or standard educational model. The limiting factor for VLACS is funding. The legislature and NHDOE have always supported VLACS; however, two years ago, when the state’s biennial budget was approved, no one could have predicted that we would need funding to meet the needs of students during a pandemic. Please know that we have not exhausted our budget and we will continue to expand to meet the needs of students. This topic is being raised now so that we can be of assistance throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Q: Can schools be given access to student progress data?
A: Yes, we can train school administrators on how to use our Student Information System and provide them with accounts. Our next partnership training session is scheduled for August 20 when we will provide training and access to our SIS. We are also developing one-hour SIS training sessions for school officials. Registration information will be available soon.
Q: Can classroom teachers get access to student progress data?
A: Yes, school administrators who have a VLACS SIS account can download their school’s data into a spreadsheet and then extract the names of students assigned to a particular teacher. Our SIS displays data regarding every student from your school, who is also enrolled in a VLACS course. Making all of this data available to classroom teachers could violate FERPA rules if a teacher does not have an educational need to know about every student in performance of their duties.
Q: Does VLACS withdraw students from courses?
A: Yes, we withdraw students who do not remain in communication with their instructor or fail to complete work on a regular basis. Withdrawal does not occur until multiple attempts to communicate with the students and parents have failed.
Q: I’ve heard you are no longer accepting students?
A: We are accepting student enrollments. Some courses have waitlists, and we are hiring and training new instructors to increase our capacity. We are experiencing an unprecedented rate of growth and may reach a limit due to budget constraints, but we are not at that point now.
Q: If there is a wait list for a particular course, can I still enroll?
A: Yes. As seats become available, students will be assigned based on the order in which the enrollment was received.
Q: How long will it take before a waitlisted course is opened?
A: It’s hard to know given the historic number of enrollment requests we are processing. Please know that we are working hard to meet the needs of students.
Q: What if a course enrollment is not available on the opening day at my local school?
A: Please contact your local school for an answer to this question. One option is that students can work at an accelerated rate in courses in which they are enrolled while waiting for seats to open in another course.
Q: Are you hiring new instructors to expand your capacity?
A: Yes, we have hired 60 new instructors since July 1, and we are now advertising for another group of elementary, middle, and high school instructors.
Q: Is there a limit to the number of courses that a student who is full-time at another school or homeschooled can complete at VLACS?
A: Yes, part-time VLACS students (i.e., students not enrolled as VLACS full-time students) may earn up to six credits between July 1 and June 30.
Q: Does VLACS follow a traditional academic year calendar?
A: No, students may enroll in a course at any time, can work throughout the year, and progress at a pace that meets their academic needs.
Q: Can students withdraw from a VLACS course?
A: Yes, at any time