Safely Back to School: Rockford school year starts 100% online

Posted at 4:57 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 18:10:15-04

ROCKFORD, Mich. — Rockford Public School District plans to return to school in person, but not at first.

Superintendent for Rockford Schools, Mike Shibler, told FOX 17 returning to the classroom right away just doesn't work with the current COVID-19 numbers in the area and, pending board approval, the schools will move to a 100% online-learning model for the first 3 weeks of the year.

"This is an extensive process" Shibler explained in a video on the school's website. The school will be taking recommendations from the Governor's office into consideration and keeping in close contact with Kent County Health Department in order to reopen the schools. Hand sanitizer stations will be provided, classrooms will be thoroughly cleaned, and Shibler says he was assured by the Kent County Health Department COVID-19 tests will return with results within 3 days.

According to Shibler, Rockford will start the school year fully online from August 24th until Firday, September 11th. At that time, parents can choose to send their students into the classroom 5 days a week or use the school's online learning tools. Rockford teachers will handle in-person instruction while the school will use a 3rd-party service for online classes to keep from burning out their staff, according to Shibler's video. Returning to the classroom will be reassessed depending on COVID-19 numbers over the next few weeks.

It's important to note this round of 100% distance learning won't look like last year. In the proposed plan, Rockford teachers will be live-steaming lessons from their classrooms to devices provided by the schools. The devices were collected at the end of last year, sanitized and serviced by the school, and will be ready for pick up starting August 10th.

Shibler says the decision to delay returning to the classroom was made based on the safety of students and staff.

The plan will be officially proposed to Rockford's school board at their August 10th meeting. Shibler said, though, he is confident this plan will be approved.