Coming Back Together, Fall 2021
Rochester Public Schools

Get ready for the 2019-2020 school year by marking your calendar with the Meet the Teacher dates! If you're ready to start packing your school bag, you'll find your school supply lists by using the Teacher List website below.

School Supply Lists provided by TeacherLists

Even though Summer just got started, we can't wait to see you this Fall! 

Elementary School
School Date and Details
Bamber Valley Thursday, Aug. 29th, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Bishop Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM*
Wednesday, Sept. 4th, 8:00 AM - 3:45 PM*
*Times will be scheduled individually
Churchill | Hoover Thursday, Aug. 29th, 3:00 - 5:00 PM
Elton Hills Thursday, Aug 29th, 11:00 AM -1:00 PM
Folwell Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM*
Wednesday, Sept. 4th, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM*
*Times will be scheduled individually
Franklin and Franklin Montessori Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM*
Wednesday, Sept 4th, 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM*
*Times will be scheduled individually
Gage Thursday, Aug. 29th, 3:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Family Dinner from 4:00 PM -7:00 PM
Gibbs Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM*
Wednesday, Sept. 4th, 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM*
*Times will be scheduled individually
Jefferson Thursday, Aug. 29th, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Longfellow 45/15 Thursday, July 18th, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Lincoln K-8 Thursday, Aug. 29th, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Pinewood Thursday, Aug. 29th, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Sunset Terrace Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM*
Wednesday, Sept. 4th, 8:00 AM - 3:45 PM*
*Times will be scheduled individually
Washington Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM*
Wednesday, Sept. 4th, 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM*
*Times will be scheduled individually
Kindergarten Orientation will be Tuesday, Sept. 3rd, 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM
New to Washington Orientation will be Tuesday, Sept. 3rd 6:30 PM - 7:00 PM
 
Middle School
School Dates and Details
Friedell Tuesday, Aug. 20th, 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM - Schedule Pick-up
Tuesday, Sept. 10th, 6:00 PM - Open House
John Adams Wednesday, Aug. 21st, 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM - 6th Grade Schedule Pick-up
Thursday, Aug. 22nd, 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM - 7th and 8th Grade Schedule Pick-up
Thursday, Aug. 29th, 3:30 PM - 6:00 PM, Meet the Teacher for all grades
Kellogg Thursday, Aug. 29th, 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM - Meet the Teacher and Schedule Pick-up
Willow Creek Thursday, Aug. 29th, 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM - Schedule Pick-up

 

High School
School Dates and Details
Century Monday, Aug. 19th, 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM - 9th Grade Schedule Pick-up
Tuesday, Aug 20th, 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM - 10th - 12th Grade Schedule Pick-up
John Marshall Thursday, Aug. 15th, 3:00 PM - 6:30 PM - 9th Grade Schedule Pick-up
Friday, Aug. 16th, 10:30 AM - 3:00 PM - 10th - 12th Grade Schedule Pick-up
Mayo Tuesday, Aug. 13th, 4:45 PM - 6:45 PM - 9th Grade Schedule Pick-up
Tuesday, Aug. 13th, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM - 9th Grade Orientation
Wednesday, Aug. 14th, 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM - 10th - 12th Grade Schedule Pick-up
Wednesday, Aug. 28th, - 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM - Open House

 

Rochester Public Schools Graduation Results Released
Rochester Public Schools

Rochester Public Schools (RPS) is celebrating several accomplishments with the release of the data. The four-year graduation rate for our three comprehensive high schools is 90.4%. The District has seen a gain in the subgroups of Hispanic/Latino, White, Two or More Races, and English Learners. The results are located below for your review. 

Superintendent Muñoz attributed the growth in these subgroups to a focus on social emotional learning and equity. “We focus on developing relationships with students and identifying the individual needs of students,” said Superintendent Muñoz. “Last winter and spring was particularly difficult as we ended the school year in Distance Learning due to the pandemic. Through it all, our support staff, teachers, and administrators worked tirelessly to meet the needs of our students, and I am proud of the work they carried out in a new and unfamiliar environment.” Multi-tiered interventions, more social and emotional support, and an increased number of educational pathways for students are several additional factors attributing to RPS’s graduation rates. 

RPS 2020 Graduation Rates

Category 4-Year Percent (RPS) 4-Year Percent (Minnesota)
All Students 85.6 83.8
Asian Students 89.5 89.1
Hispanic Students 80.9 70.4
Black Students 75.0 69.2
White Students 88.8 89.0
Two or More Races 84.8 73.5
EL Students 70.6 66.2
Special Education Students 63.9 65.0
Free Reduced Lunch Students 73.5 71.6

 

RPS Summer 2021 COVID-19 Learning Plan
Rochester Public Schools

This plan establishes the mitigation expectations for Rochester Public Schools staff and students during Summer 2021, and may change as updated guidance becomes available.  

Program Design for Mitigation

Rochester Public Schools has designed its Summer 2021 programs to include several layers of mitigation, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and local medical experts. 

  • Small group sizes - indoor Summer of Discovery classes will be limited to cohorts of 15-20 people, allowing for sufficient physical distancing among participants and staff; child care, enrichment, and other activities will follow State guidelines for cohort sizes.
  • Extra time outside - participants and adults will spend some of their time outdoors where transmission risk is lower.
  • Respiratory etiquette - participants and staff are encouraged to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, use tissues and throw them away, and wash hands after touching nose or mouth.
  • Hand hygiene - participants and staff will have ready access to hand washing facilities and hand sanitizer, with information posted on correct hand washing techniques.
  • Spaced seating for meals - participants and staff will have sufficient space to physically distance during meals.
  • Additional cleaning and sanitizing - RPS will continue its enhanced attention to high touch surfaces and shared materials.
  • Ventilation - RPS will continue to maximize fresh air service to indoor classrooms.

Face Coverings

As vaccination uptake continues at a high level in Olmsted County, and community case numbers continue to decline, RPS will focus on the use of face coverings at age 11 and under, where vaccination is not yet available, and on buses, where the risk for loss of program access is the highest. The chart below shows where face coverings will be required for participants in RPS summer programs. 

Participants

Early Childhood

Elementary

Middle

High School/Adult

On Buses

As Able

Required

Required

Required

Indoors 

As Able

Required

Required for age 11 and under

Not Required

Outdoors 

Not Required

Not Required

Not Required

Not Required

Based on current guidance, RPS will not require face coverings for staff, but strongly recommends that those who are not fully vaccinated continue to protect themselves and others with a face covering. If State guidance or local COVID rates change, this requirement may change. 

Contact Tracing

If a positive case of COVID-19 is reported, the district’s COVID Facilitator will follow established MDH and Olmsted County protocols to identify any close contacts to the positive case and communicate with parents/guardians regarding any necessary quarantine. To make the contact tracing process possible, instructors will keep accurate attendance records and will maintain seating records for class time, meal times, and field trip bus rides. District COVID Team members will collaborate with County and State public health officials in case response and reporting.

Student and Staff COVID-19 Testing

Minnesota and Vault Medical Services have teamed up to offer no-barrier, at-home COVID-19 saliva testing for everyone who lives in Minnesota, with or without symptoms. You can read more about this service on the Minnesota Department of Health website. Information on local diagnostic testing is available on the Olmsted County Testing page. 

Vaccinations for School Age Students

Individuals age 12 and older are currently eligible for the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. RPS has offered school-based vaccination clinics during the school year. As school releases, community sites continue to offer vaccinations to students age 12 and up. General information is available on the Olmsted County Vaccine page. The State of Minnesota Vaccine Locator tool allows searching by zip code, distance, age group, and more. 

Field Trips

All staff and students are required to wear face coverings on school buses. RPS protocols for face coverings indoors/outdoors and other mitigation measures are applicable on all field trips. All chaperones must follow RPS protocols. If a field trip destination has a stricter policy, RPS staff, additional chaperones, and students will follow those rules. 

In-Person Meetings

In-person meetings may resume as of June 8. Meeting organizers should select and arrange spaces to allow physical distancing. Sanitizing surfaces before meetings and between different users is strongly recommended. Staff who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear a face covering, but may wear one if they choose. Organizers must keep a seating arrangement record of attendees and make that available in the event of a positive case investigation. 

Visitors

Visitors to district buildings are expected to follow State of Minnesota face covering rules and should minimize interaction with students unless their presence is critical to learning. 

 

Proposed Budget for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.
Rochester Public Schools

This budget was briefed to the school board on June 1. The school board is expected to approve the 2021-2022 budget at the June 15 school board meeting. Highlights of the 2021-2022 budget include:

  • RPS Online School staffing for students desiring a full-time online option
  • A new Cabinet-level leadership position—Executive Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Four middle school sports options at all our middle schools – more information will be available in the future from our Middle School Principals and High School Activities Directors
  • Additional Custodians for enhanced cleaning
  • Grade-level sections staffed with enough teachers to ensure class sizes at or below the class size target

Download the 2021-2022 Budget Guide Book

School Board approves Boundary Adjustment for the 2022-2023 School Year.
Rochester Public Schools

The boundary adjustments will become effective for the start of school in the 2022-2023 school year. The Superintendent recommends the School Board approve the boundary adjustments no later than September 2021, so families have approximately one year to adjust as necessary.

An Advisory Committee has been working on attendance boundary options. Now, the District is issuing a survey to collect feedback around a series of boundary options. Please note: no decisions have been made, there is no preferred option, and this survey is intended to encourage discussion and feedback. The Advisory Committee will evaluate feedback collected through this online survey from the community and recommend option(s) to the Superintendent. 

If you have additional questions or concerns after completing this survey, you will have the chance to sign up for a focus group meeting to discuss these questions.

The survey is available online at rochesterschools.org/boundaries until April 20, 2021, at 8 PM. RPS families will also receive a survey link on Wednesday, April 7 via Skylert email. Staff will receive a link via after the school board meeting concludes in the weekly school board meeting update. 

Take the Boundary Adjustment Option Survey

COVID-19 Vaccine Available for Youth 12 and Older
Minnesota Department of Health

At this time, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has been studied and authorized for use by people age 12-17. Other vaccine manufacturers are also studying their vaccines in younger age groups but have not yet received authorization. 

We are reaching out to ensure you have the resources necessary to help parents/guardians get their child vaccinated.

Getting a Vaccine 

There are a number of ways that parents can get their child vaccinated. Some locations require appointments, but many places are now accepting walk-ins.  

To find a vaccine: 

  • Walk-in or schedule an appointment through the State’s Community Vaccination Programs at the Mall of America, Roy Wilkins, Lino Lakes or Oakdale. You can also get connected to a vaccine through Minnesota’s Vaccine Connector

  • Minnesotans age 12-15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  

  • Information about appointments will arrive via text or email from the state’s vaccination partners running those sites: Vault Health, Primary Bio or SpeciaLysts (Solv).  

  • Contact your child’s primary health care provider, local public health or a local pharmacy. 

  • Use the Vaccine Locator Map to find vaccine locations near you.  

  • Use Vaccines.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you. Under vaccine make sure to check the box for Pfizer. 

Minnesotans can call the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Public Hotline at 1-833-431-2053 for language assistance, questions and to find an appointment near them.  

There is no cost for the vaccine. Minnesotans do not need to provide a Government issued ID or medical insurance to be vaccinated, and no question on immigration status is ever asked. 

‘Roll up your sleeves, Minnesota Families!’ 

‘Roll Up Your Sleeves, Minnesota Families’ week will begin Tuesday, May 18 and will extend through Saturday, May 22. During this week, 12-15-year-olds and their families are being prioritized for shots at the state’s community vaccination site at Mall of America. Families are encouraged to walk-in or schedule an appointment next week at Mall of America: Mall of America Community Vaccination Site. Minnesotan’s ages 12-15 can also get vaccinated in Oakdale, Lino Lakes and at Roy Wilkins Auditorium: Vaccine ConnectorMinnesotans age 12-15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at these sites. 

Additional Information from the Minnesota Department of Health

Get reliable information about COVID-19 vaccines 

Get current and reliable information on COVID-19  

 

RPS Interim Superintendent is Selected.
Rochester Public Schools

Information from this survey will provide valuable input for the Board to consider as they move forward in selecting the Interim Superintendent for Rochester Public Schools. Feedback can be provided to the School Board through Survey Monkey, and input will be accepted until April 12, 2021. Individuals can also download the survey on our website to complete the survey and mail or drop it off at the Edison Building (615 7th Street SW).

Take the Interim Superintendent Survey 

The survey is available in several languages; ArabicBosnianChineseKhmerSomaliSpanish, and Vietnamese

Follow along with the search online at rochesterschools.org/interimsuperintendent.

Summer Construction at Rochester Public Schools
Rochester Public Schools

Many of the construction projects that are mentioned in this letter are part of the District’s 10-year facility maintenance plan. This is a plan that the District follows and adjusts accordingly so that our buildings have routine adjustments and fixes occurring which prolong the life of the building.

Bamber Valley Elementary School

  • The majority of the school’s roof replaced due to the storm damage that occurred in 2019
  • The school bus parking lot will be closed (in the back of the school)
  • Anticipated construction dates are June 8 - August 13

Bishop Elementary School

  • This school and property will be completely closed starting June 8
  • The building is scheduled to be demolished, with new construction beginning this summer for a new Bishop Elementary School set to open Fall 2022

Century High School 

  • Locker Room Dehumidification: The handling unit will be replaced to provide dehumidification for the locker room
  • Staff Parking Lot & Main Driveway Replacement: The staff parking lot and main driveway will be closed from June 8 until approximately August 6 to reconstruct both areas. The student parking lot will remain open throughout the summer

Century & Mayo High School Tennis Courts

  • Tennis Courts at both Century and Mayo HS sites will be closed starting June 8 until approximately August 13 for the reconstruction of the courts. The final playing surface will not be applied until Spring of 2022

Jefferson Elementary School

  • Loading Dock Driveway: The loading dock driveway will be replaced throughout the summer
  • Large Gym Floor Replacement: The large gym will be closed from June 8 until approximately August 13 for a full flooring replacement

Lincoln K-8 School  

  • The building will be under construction starting June 8 until approximately August 13 for the replacement of all of the windows throughout the building

Northrop Education Center

  • Northrop will be closed June 14th until approximately August 13 for the replacement of flooring

Planetarium at Mayo High School

  • The planetarium at Mayo High school closed June 8 until approximately August 13 to install a second fire exit

Willow Creek Middle School

  • The gym will be closed June 8 until approximately August 13 for the replacement of the moveable walls
RPS launches RPS Online School for K-12 Students.
Rochester Public Schools

RPS Online offers a live, virtual learning environment with opportunities for occasional in-person activities such as hands-on labs and field trips. Students will participate in instruction aligned to the state standards taught by Rochester Public School teachers. Instruction will be provided in a synchronous (real-time) model. This comprehensive model is available for Kindergarten through Twelfth-grade students. High School students will have supplemental course work (some in person and some virtual) depending on course enrollment.

We recognize one size does not fit all when it comes to learning environments. We know a number of students thrived in the virtual platform over the past school year, and we aim to provide these students with a full-time virtual opportunity.

You're invited to learn more about the RPS Online School by attending one of the virtual Q & A sessions listed below:

  • Wednesday, May 5th - 10:30 am-1:30 pm
  • Thursday, May 6th - 4:00 pm-6:00 pm
  • Tuesday, May 11th - 10:30 am-1:30 pm
  • Monday, May 17th - 4:00 pm-6:00 pm
  • Wednesday, May 19th - 10:30 am-1:30 pm
  • Tuesday, May 25th - 10:30 am-1:30 pm

Join the Google meeting by:

  1. Go to meet.google.com.
  2. Click Use a meeting code.
  3. Enter the code (RPS Online School) and click Continue.
  4. Click Ask to join.
  5. When someone in the meeting gives you access, you'll join it.

For questions, please call (507) 328-4300 or email either of our principals listed below:

Resources on Race and Racism
Rochester Public Schools

Dear RPS Families,

Today, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts of the murder of George Floyd. For many of our students, families, and school staff this will be an especially challenging time, especially for our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) staff, students, and families. 

As educators, we are playing a critical role in supporting our students. Every student, family, and staff member is a valued member of our community. We believe it is the collective responsibility of all RPS staff to be actively and intentionally anti-racist, both individually and collectively. This responsibility involves critical self-awareness and self-reflection; recognizing and addressing bias; dismantling racist cultures, practices, and procedures; and increasing one’s cultural responsiveness and cultural awareness.

We have included resources below for families to address race and racism:

We have a collective responsibility to ensure our schools provide a caring, supportive, and anti-oppressive environment. School communities should support the healthy, positive development of students and help them grow their unique gifts and talents. Our staff are committed to supporting one another and our students.

Thank you for your partnership in education,

Rochester Public Schools

Elementary and Secondary Learning Model Updates
Rochester Public Schools

 
Here is the key information for now:

PreK and Elementary Learning Model 

  • Grades PreK - grade 5 to continue the hybrid model through the month of February and to return to full in-person learning, five days a week, beginning March 1. 
  • This means that beginning on March 1, PreK - grade 5 students will resume their pre-pandemic school start times of 9:10/9:15 AM and dismissal time of 3:35 PM. 
  • There will be no school for students on Wednesday, February 24 because this will be a Model Change Planning Day for teachers. 
  • Students that have chosen to remain in Distance Learning will continue with Distance Learning for the remainder of the school year. 

Secondary Learning Model 

  • Middle and High School students will return to in-person learning beginning on April 5, which is the first day of the fourth quarter. Students will attend all-day, 5 days a week. 
  • There will be an early dismissal from the regular pre-pandemic times to accommodate the Governor’s Executive Order, allowing for 30 minutes a day of planning for teachers. Students will begin school during their pre-pandemic start times. Schools will be sharing more information regarding this.
  • Our 6th and 9th grade students will be participating in welcoming activities since this will be their first time in school.
  • Like pre-pandemic times, students will attend an 8-period day.
  • Mitigation and safety measures will be in place - more details will be communicated to parents. 
  • There will be no school for students on March 17, March 24, and March 25 because these will be a Model Change Planning Day for teaching staff.
  • Students will have the opportunity to remain in Distance Learning. Information will come directly from your school. 
  • More extensive information will be shared with parents and staff before Spring Break.

  • For immediate questions, families should contact their supervisor and parents are reminded to contact their principals.

Last Week of the Quarter Schedule for the Secondary Students:

  • Monday, March 22: Regular instruction day (Distance Learning Plus Supports) for students
  • Tuesday, March 23: Last day of the quarter AND a transition day for 6th and 9thgrade students (more information will be coming from your school)
  • Wednesday, March 24: No school for students. Teacher planning day, pending MDE approval.
  • Thursday, March 25: No school for students. Teacher planning day, pending MDE approval.
  • Friday, March 26: No school for students. District workday for grading.
RPS continues to Distribute Prepared Meals and Meal Kits for Students and Families
Rochester Public Schools

RPS is continuing to offer meal kit pick-up for all children 1-18 years old in Distance Learning. Students are able to receive one meal kit/week. Students do not need to be enrolled at RPS to receive free meals.

Meal Kits will consist of heat-and-serve and ready-to-eat entrees, fruits, vegetables, and milk. Instructions for storage/preparation will be available online. No pre-registration or paperwork is required.

Daytime Meal Kit Distribution Dates:

  • March 12th
  • March 19th

Daytime distribution is from 10 AM - 12 PM.

Evening Meal Distribution Dates:

  • March 3rd
  • March 10th
  • March 17th
  • March 24th

Evening distribution is from 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM.

 

Both distributions can be picked up from Graham Park Building #35 at the Fairgrounds (1403 3rd Avenue SE).

Please enter at the 16th Street and Arena Dr SE. Proceed North to building #35. If able, please open/unlock your trunk or leave a seat open where the meal kit can be placed.

Please practice social distancing protocol. To keep everyone safe, please remain in your vehicle and let our staff know how many children you are picking up for. Children do not need to be present.

COVID-19 Advisory Team Update on Vaccinations, Secondary Schedules, Returning to In-Person Learning.
Rochester Public Schools

As a reminder, the COVID-19 Advisory Team consists of the Superintendent, members of the School Board and Cabinet, union leadership, District COVID-19 team members, and officials from Olmsted County Public Health and Mayo Clinic.

There are a few updates we'd like to share with you:

  1. Vaccinations. Rochester Public Schools is responsible for providing opportunities for vaccinations. Currently, RPS has been able to offer 1,500 opportunities for staff. This is nearly half of our staff. The District is unable to determine how many staff members have received the vaccine due to data privacy.  
  2. Secondary Schedules. We have been discussing both block schedules and an 8-period day at the high school. The conversation around both schedules involved teacher support, student and family desires, and mitigation efforts to keep all students safe in either schedule. Your middle and/or high school administration will be sending parents a mid-year registration email detailing the school schedule and asking you to confirm your student's participation in one of two learning models: in-person or distance learning. 
  3. Returning to In-Person. Yesterday, Governor Walz shared his expectation that all schools offer some in-person instruction beginning March 8, unless a district has already released their learning plan prior to February 17, 2021. At the February 2, School Board meeting the Board voted to return PreK-grade 5 students all in person beginning on March 1 and to return all secondary students in person on April 5. The School Board will revisit this conversation on March 2 during their regularly scheduled business meeting. You can watch this meeting live at Youtube.com/ISD535. 

We appreciate your understanding and patience. We know this is one of the most challenging times for our students, families, and staff. We cannot underscore the importance of keeping our community healthy and safe. Our website offers information on our mitigation strategies and much more. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to review the supports offered to students and parents/guardians.


On February 17, Minnesota’s Deputy Commissioner of Education, Heather Mueller, announced an update to the Safe Learning Plan. This plan was updated to align more closely with CDC guidance.

We will be reviewing this guidance thoroughly and discussing this with our COVID-19 Advisory Team, which consists of the Superintendent, members of the School Board and Cabinet, union leadership, District COVID-19 team members, and officials from Olmsted County Public Health and Mayo Clinic. Our team will meet tomorrow afternoon.

Our priority remains to return all of our children to school full time while keeping our staff and students safe. As guidelines evolve, we will continue to follow the science and ensure that we put our community, education professionals, and students in the best possible place during this pandemic and these historic times.

As a reminder, the most recent School Board decisions about RPS Learning Models:

  • PreK and Elementary School: Return to in-person learning model PreK - Grade 5 on March 1
  • Middle and High School: Return to in-person learning model Grades 6 - 12 on April 5

We know these are challenging times, and we sincerely appreciate your support, patience, and partnership in education.

Sincerely,

Rochester Public Schools

RPS Reviews Enrollment Projections
Rochester Public Schools

Enrollment projections form the basis of the next year’s revenue budget which is why reviewing these numbers is of importance for the district. 

On February 19, the Minnesota Department of Education released enrollment data for Minnesota schools. The change in the number of students enrolled in Minnesota prekindergarten through grade 12 schools is driven primarily by younger students with a 9% drop in public kindergarten enrollment between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. Conversely, there was an increase in the number of younger students choosing nonpublic options, with a 12.4% increase in kindergarten enrollment between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years. The most significant increase is seen in the number of students in home school—a 49.5% increase from last school year. Additionally, the decline in enrollment broken down by race and ethnicity shows that while most demographics held relatively steady with slight increases in enrollment over the 2019-20 school year, the vast majority of the decline in enrollment in public schools is seen in our white students. Statewide, white student enrollment saw a 3.7% decrease from the previous school year which translates to more than 20,000 students. To read this full report, visit MDE online.

In October 2020, Rochester Public Schools enrollment declined to 17,635 students. It is believed that was primarily because of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Last year, the projection for October 2020 was 18,446 students. This means the projection was missed by 811 students but it was an actual decline of 661 students. On September 1, 2020, the reasons given for leaving Rochester Public Schools were:

  • 25% moved out of the local area
  • 21% moved out of state or country
  • 13% paid for private school
  • 13% chose homeschooling (not the same as distance learning)
  • 11% had not provided a reason for leaving
  • 8% enrolled in an online school (for distance learning but not RPS distance learning)
  • 6% open-enrolled into another local district like Byron, Stewartville, Pine Island, or Dover-Eyota
  • 1% enrolled in a local public charter school
  • 1% refused services
  • <1% dropped out
  • <1% entered a GED program

Five-Year Historical Enrollment

5 year Historical Enrollment for years 2016-2020

Non-Public, Charter, and Home School Options

Non-Public, Charter, and Home School Options for years 2011-2021

The projection indicates that the District is likely to experience increases in enrollment again in all the next five years. Based upon available data, the total District enrollment is projected to rise to 17,743 students in October 2021. This would be an increase of 108 students (0.6%) from October 2020. The projections are possibly conservative; staff have assumed 25% of the students who left for other options will re-enroll for 2021-2022 but that 75% of the students will stay with the option they chose in 2020-2021.

Projected 5-Year Enrollment for Rochester Public Schools

5 year projected enrollment for years 2021-2026

Overall, birth numbers in Olmsted County have been going down, but enrollment has gone up, meaning students not born here are moving into the District. These projection models are built with birth numbers as a starting point, and it gives the appearance that enrollment may be flat in the medium-term of 5 years.

The full presentation is available online for review or watch the playback at youtube.com/ISD535.

MN launches Community COVID-19 Vaccine Pilot Program
Rochester Public Schools

Willow Creek Middle School has been chosen as one of the community pilot sites for Minnesota's Community COVID-19 Vaccine pilot program. We are excited about this opportunity and the ability to make vaccines available for our staff. More information on vaccines and who's being vaccinated can be found at https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/.

Please note that vaccines must be scheduled through the MN COVID-19 website listed above and that individuals should not call Willow Creek in an attempt to schedule an appointment. Vaccines are only available by appointment only, and walk-ins will not be accepted. Please do not visit Willow Creek unless you have a scheduled appointment.


*The following information is from the Minnesota Department of Health. Visit their website for the most up-to-date information.

Minnesota is piloting a community COVID-19 vaccine program, partnering with local public health and school districts, to place nine pilot clinics across the state. These pilot clinics will initially serve adults 65 years of age or older and prekindergarten through grade 12 educators, school staff, and child care workers. 

While the vaccines at the pilot clinics will be administered by experienced professionals under strict medical guidance, the pilot program itself is a fact finding mission, not a final destination. It’s a laboratory, not a finished product. The purpose of the program is to find out what works and what doesn’t work. Every step of the way, we will be evaluating where the program succeeds and falls short, including but not limited to registration, clinic flow patterns, and timing. In doing so, we hope to learn how to most safely, efficiently and equitably protect Minnesotans from COVID-19 through community vaccination. 

As the state continues to wait on the federal government to increase the supply of vaccine to Minnesota, we are doing everything in our power to move quickly on all vaccine we do receive. 

Every shot in the arm is another step toward crushing COVID and meeting the goal of getting millions of Minnesotans vaccinated as quickly and as safely as possible. 

It’s our responsibility to have the infrastructure in place to get the limited number of doses per week the state’s currently receiving quickly and safely into arms. And it’s our responsibility to be ready to do the same when that supply finally increases to meet the huge demand. These community pilot clinics will help us build an efficient, equitable distribution system all Minnesotans can be proud of. 

The community vaccination pilot program will be the foundation for mass vaccination clinics in Minnesota communities once the federal government increases vaccine supply. The nine pilot clinics will launch this week with a small number of doses for eligible Minnesotans. 

There is a very limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota. Minnesota has not yet received an increase in vaccine doses from the federal government. We encourage Minnesotans to remain patient as more vaccine arrives in the weeks and months ahead. 

While Minnesota is beginning to serve those age 65 and older, educators and child care workers, the state continues to serve healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff in Phase 1a. This pilot program will help ensure that Minnesota has a robust process in place when more vaccine is made available from the federal government. 

Healthcare workers and long-term care resident and staff can still receive the vaccine through their workplace, care facility, or local public health. Minnesota remains on pace to offer at least first doses of vaccine to all in these groups by the end of January. 

Additional details on Phase 1b are dependent on decisions to be made by the federal government and will be available in the weeks ahead. 

WHO CAN GET VACCINATED NOW 

  • The state is beginning to vaccinate new groups of Minnesotans this week, including: 
    • Adults 65 years of age or older; 
    • Prekindergarten through grade 12 educators and school staff at public school districts, charter schools, tribal schools and nonpublic school organizations; 
    • Staff working in licensed and certified child care programs. 
    • The state continues to vaccinate the health care workers and assisted-living residents and staff in phase 1a and is on track to having provided at least one shot to all 500,000 Minnesotans in that group before the end of the month. 
  • Minnesota will provide more details on phase 1b in the coming weeks as the incoming Biden administration provides more guidance to states. 

PEOPLE NOT IDENTIFIED IN THIS IMMEDIATE PHASE 

  • Right now, vaccine demand far outpaces our supply. 
  • We continue to immunize for impact and opening up supply to adults 65 years of age or older helps us protect the Minnesotans most at risk from serious complications of the virus, while ensuring no doses are wasted. 
  • Getting the vaccine to our prekindergarten through grade 12 educators, school staff, and child care workers will also help ensure our kids can be in school. 
  • But we know there are Minnesotans who work in front line industries, those with underlying health conditions, and so many others who need access to the vaccine. 
  • We know it’s hard to be patient and it’s frustrating, but we simply do not have enough vaccine supply right now to reach everyone. 
  • We will get to you. As we get more vaccine supply, we will vaccinate more people. 

PILOT CLINICS / HOW TO SIGN UP 

  • In coordination with local public health and school districts, Minnesota is launching a pilot program this week to increase vaccination capacity in communities across the state and to prepare for the future when more vaccine is made available from the federal government. 
  • This pilot program will be the foundation for mass vaccination clinics in communities across the state for when we receive more vaccine supply from the federal government. 
  • There will be nine pilot clinics launched this week with a small number of doses for eligible Minnesotans. 
  • The pilot clinics are located in these nine cities: 
    • Brooklyn Center 
    • Andover 
    • Fergus Falls 
    • Mountain Iron 
    • Thief River Falls 
    • Saint Cloud 
    • North Mankato 
    • Rochester 
    • Marshall 

MINNESOTANS AGE 65 AND OLDER 

  • Appointments will be made by phone or on the website only. 
  • Beginning on Tuesday, January 19 at noon, Minnesotans age 65 and older can schedule an appointment online at mn.gov/vaccine or by phone 612-426-7230 or 833-431-2053. 
  • You MUST have an appointment. 
  • No walk-ins will be accepted, and anyone with the intention of walking in will be asked to leave and escorted out by security. 
  • No-shows will be filled from the waitlist only – not from people who just show up at a clinic. 
  • You can put yourself on the waitlist either through the call center or online – there is a separate waitlist for each pilot clinic. 
  • Making appointments for the second dose varies on which system the clinic uses. You will either sign up for your second dose when you make your appointment for your first dose, or you’ll make your second dose appointment during your first appointment. 

EDUCATORS, SCHOOL STAFF, CHILD CARE WORKERS 

  • The Governor has prioritized frontline education and child care workers that our healthcare system depends on to get kids back in school. 
  • Prekindergarten through grade 12 educators, school staff and child care workers will work directly with their program or school to sign up for a vaccine appointment. 
  • Due to the very limited supply of vaccine, appointments are not open to all workers in these sectors in the pilot program. The limited vaccine doses have been allocated to regions associated with schools and based on a percentage of the workforce in child care and education. 
  • School districts, charter schools, tribal schools, and nonpublic school associations will select who participates in the pilot. 
  • Child care programs will be randomly selected and notified to secure an appointment through the state-sponsored pilot clinics. 

FEDERALLY QUALIFIED HEALTH CENTERS 

  • From the beginning of the COVID-19 response the state has prioritized equity, because the health disparities that existed prior to the pandemic have been exacerbated by COVID-19. 
  • Continuing to center equity in Minnesota’s vaccine roll-out remains a top priority. 
  • As the state has received an extremely limited supply of the vaccine Minnesota is allocated from the federal government, this limited quantity creates challenges. 
  • The state’s planning includes provisions designed to ensure that vaccines are available in an equitable manner for those experiencing health disparities, especially Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color. 
  • To help ensure equitable distribution to communities that need it most in addition to these 9 pilot clinics, the state is working strategically with community clinics and other federally qualified heath centers who are well versed on how to serve Minnesota’s Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color, as well as the uninsured. 
  • As people 65 and older are at higher risk for severe outcomes or severe illness from COVID-19, getting the vaccine out to those 65 and older is in line with the state’s goal of immunizing for impact to protect those who have the highest risk of serve complication from the virus. 
  • And the health disparities we see among BIPOC communities are also evident in the 65+ category. 
  • Therefore, as part of this phase, the state is working closely with trusted community hubs, aiming to have staff who speak languages other than English and interpreting services, and other efforts to ensure that equity remains at the center. 
  • But we need more vaccine – and faster – to come from the federal government so that we can reach all Minnesotans who need protection from the virus. 

PROVIDER ROLE IN VACCINATIONS 

  • Minnesota’s physicians and health care systems are eager to help vaccinate all eligible Minnesotans against COVID-19. 
  • Your provider will let you know when they have a vaccine available for eligible patients. While more people are eligible to receive the vaccine now, the supply remains very limited. 
  • Providers will let patients know when they can start making appointments for a vaccine and the Minnesota Department of Health will keep the public updated on vaccine supply and priority populations. Because of limited supply, you do not need to contact your provider at this time. 
  • Most community vaccinators, such as primary care clinics, urgent care clinics, and pharmacies, do not yet have vaccine for broad public use. 
  • If you don’t have a regular health care provider, you may be able to schedule an appointment through one of the state clinics, though limited supplies mean there will be more demand for vaccine than there are available doses. 
  • Please be patient. More opportunities for vaccination will be coming as the state receives more vaccine. 
  • In the meantime, please continue to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors by wearing a mask, washing your hands, maintaining social distance, and staying home when you feel sick.
AMENDED - Beginning in Fall of 2021: Bell Time Changes Approved
Rochester Public Schools

On Tuesday, January 12, the School Board unanimously approved a change to start times for schools for the 2021-2022 school year, reversing their earlier decision.

The school day will now run from 8:20 AM to 3:30 PM for high school students, 8:20 AM to 3 PM for middle school students, and 9:35 AM to 4 PM for elementary school students.


After two years of studies, feedback, and community involvement, the School Board voted to accept option B. This change in school start and end times will coincide with the boundary changes beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. To watch a playback of the school board meeting, please visit youtube.com/ISD535.

Bell Time Study Background

Two options were presented in November to the school board as potential solutions for a later start time for secondary students, one start time was earlier for elementary students and the other option was later. The school board asked for feedback from the community, staff, students, and parents. The District hosted a Thoughtexchange in the month of December. More than 7,200 people participated, with a total of almost 10,000 thoughts. You can find this summary on BoardDocs. 

Take a deeper dive into the feedback on the ThoughtExchanges:

 Staff, Parent, and Community ThoughtExchange

 Student ThoughtExchange

The District also hosted a live-streamed meeting from 6 - 7 PM on Wednesday, December 11 with Dr. Auger from Mayo Clinic. A recap and replay of this meeting is available below. Around 50 people attended the meeting. 

The goal of the Thoughtexchange and community meeting was to determine if one of the options was more favorable, or if the District needed to pursue other options. Additionally, the goal of the feedback was to extrapolate themes that are important to our students, as well as our community, parents, and staff.

After reviewing the feedback, the Bell Time Committee made adjustments to the proposed start time schedules due to instructional time, calendar days, and budget costs. 

On February 10, at a study session, the school board discussed additional options and gave the District redefined parameters with the expectation that two options would be available as a briefing item for the February 18, 2020 school board meeting.

On February 18, the school board received these options and had a robust conversation about school start times. After further consideration, the school board decided to hold on implementation in favor of gathering more feedback from stakeholders, and more research specifically in the area of elementary school students and their learning. As a procedural matter, Chair Seelinger suggested the school board move one option to action and vote it down so that the topic could be removed from future agendas until the additional input is ready to present. 

The District will bring back a recommendation after further work and additional feedback. School start times for the 2020-2021 school year will remain the same, with more conversations occurring in the upcoming months. 


Update: February 1, 2020

Bell times for the 2020-2021 school year have yet to be determined. Conversations on bell times will continue through the month of February, first with a study session on February 10 at the Facilities Services Center (3935 Hwy. 14 E.), and a tentative presentation to the school board on February 18, 2020 at the Edison Board Room (615 7thStreet SW).


Update: December 12, 2019

The District has been researching changes to our bell times for years. We are considering a later start time for our students as early as Fall 2020, but it is important to hear from our students, parents, staff, and community members before we make any decision. Initially, the District studied the cost of one start time across the district for elementary and secondary students. This would require changes to our busing schedule which would cost us an additional six million dollars per year.

So, a committee of approximately 15 individuals throughout the District studied the pros and cons of two different start time options. We presented these options to the school board on November 12th. 

We’re exploring both options for a variety of reasons including our increased emphasis on social and emotional health. We believe sleep is a major contributor to our students’ wellness.

On December 11, the District hosted a community meeting in order to seek feedback on these options. A replay of the community meeting is available on our YouTube Channel. The meeting began with a sleep presentation by Dr. Robert Auger from Mayo Clinic. The District's information on both options was presented as well. 

We're asking our parents, staff, students, and community members to provide their feedback through a Thoughtexchange. This exchange will be open until December 20, 2019. The District will compile the themes from the exchange, along with the feedback from the community meeting, and present them to the RPS School Board in late January. 

A side-by-side comparison of the current bell times, compared with the proposed options is a helpful resource when considering which option is more favorable to you. 

 

Inclement Weather Procedure for 2020-2021
Rochester Public Schools

On October 29, MDE shared the Inclement Weather Guidance for 2020-2021. This guidance specifically addresses how schools may adjust their Safe Learning Plans in order to respond to inclement weather and possible school closures.

We feel confident in our capacity to deliver instruction virtually to all of our students while we are in hybrid and distance learning. The most compelling reason for closing schools is the safety of our students. In a normal year, all of our students would be attending school in-person. Due to the pandemic, the District has implemented a Safe Learning Plan that consists of distance learning. RPS has made significant investments in technology devices, connectivity, and professional development in order to efficiently deliver instruction to our students within these models.

Following MDE guidance, the District will not need to cancel school while in Distance Learning or Hybrid Learning Model(s). Instead we will continue our distance learning model on days when transportation is canceled due to inclement weather. The District will be canceling transportation services on Distance Learning days and Hybrid days.

UPDATED 2/2/21: Once the District shifts any of our learning models to full in-person, inclement weather days will resume as full inclement days (otherwise known as a traditional snow day) across all levels. This decision is made to align with MDE guidance from October 29 (i.e. If elementary schools moved to full in-person learning, inclement weather days would occur across all grades and learning models).

ROCHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS INCLEMENT WEATHER DAY INFORMATION FOR FAMILIES

Distance Learning (DL) 

RPS Schools will provide all instruction through distance learning. There will be no in-person instruction. The Mayo Clinic at ALC will be closed.

Transportation

Transportation services will be suspended. 

Providing Meals 

Meal service may be suspended depending on weather conditions. Any rescheduled opportunities will be communicated.

Child Care for Critical Workers (CCfCW) 

A limited number of spots will be available for Child Care for Critical Workers (CCfCW) at John Adams from 8:30 AM - 4 PM. Pre-registration for inclement weather day care is required, and  inclement weather day fees apply. Due to limited staffing, the regular school-based “pod” model may not be possible. Lunch service will not be available; participants should bring a lunch. Transportation will not be available for CCfCW. 

Before and After School Age Child Care (SACC)

Before and After School SACC will not be available.

Pandemic-EBT Benefits for Families
Rochester Public Schools

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals may be eligible for Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) to purchase food for days they are not in the school building. To be considered, households must submit an application for free or reduced-price meals for the 2020-2021 school year or be approved for Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Families who received P-EBT benefits last summer are not automatically eligible; eligibility is based on the current school year. Benefits may be retroactive to September 2020, depending on when eligibility for free or reduced-price meals is determined. To ensure you qualify for the most benefits, please submit your application as soon as possible.

Application for Educational Benefits - English
Application for Educational Benefits - Hmong
Application for Educational Benefits - Spanish
Application for Educational Benefits - Somali

RPS Students Report Positive Perceptions of School Despite Pandemic
Rochester Public Schools

The District uses an educational survey tool called Panorama Education. This survey is one important way that students have been able to share their voices and experiences while attending RPS. Panorama surveys have been administered to students in grades 3-12 a total of three times since Spring 2019. Additionally, secondary students (grades 6-12) had an opportunity to participate in a survey last spring during Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-20, the stay-at-home order. 

The Panorama survey is grouped into various categories that address social-emotional wellness.  These categories are then able to be compared across school years, buildings, and various subgroups of students. 

The Fall 2020 Panorama survey demonstrated student resiliency amid COVID-19 struggles.

The category Sense of Belonging is defined as how much students feel they are valued members of their school community. The results show: 

  • An overall increase of nine points for grades 3-5 and three points for grades 6-12 in the category since the last administration of the survey.
  • In response to the question, “How much do you belong at your school?”, only 4% of responding students in grades 6-12 answered, “not at all”. 

The area of Teacher-Student Relationships also had moderate increases in students grades 6-12, which is up five points from Spring 2020. In grades 3-5, there was an increase of seven points from the last administration in Fall 2019. Nationally, RPS ranks between the 60th and 90th percentile nationwide in this category. “Such a positive student perception data speaks highly to the hard work of teachers,” said Michael Muñoz, Superintendent.  “Building relationships is critical but challenging, especially during Distance Learning.”

Mental Health and Education professionals nationwide are having conversations around the topic of emotional regulation. At RPS, little to no change was reported in this category from students between the Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 survey administration in either grades 3-5 or grades 6-12. Assistant Director of Student Services, Denise Moody, stated, “I view this largely as a success in that the majority of our students are not regressing in emotional regulation despite the unprecedent challenges faced between the two survey administrations.” 

The data in this survey represents only a portion of the student body’s general wellness. With this understanding, the district’s Emotional and Mental Wellbeing team offers a variety of supports intended to bolster the resilience of students, staff and families within the district. These include: 

  • Universal classroom social-emotional lessons to Grades Pre-k through 8,
  • Emotional and Mental Wellbeing professionals at each building to offer group or individual support,
  • Free, confidential, and anonymous online screeners for anyone who may be worried about their mental health www.mentalhealthscreeningtools.com,
  • Free, virtual consultations with a community mental health provider for caregivers to address concerns regarding their child’s mental wellness https://rochestermnschedule.as.me/