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RPS 205 changes plans, adds remote option for early childhood education

Adjusts schedule for middle and high schools, offers remote only job options
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 6:04 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Rockford Public School district 205 announced updates to its back to school plan Wednesday. Initially early childhood education did not have a remote learning option. After seeing results of the back to school survey, district leaders received approval from the state to extend the choice to that age group, too.

“Young children learn through positive relationships with children and hands on material,” says RPS 205 early childhood education executive director Kim Nelson. “For this age group that seemed to be the most appropriate.”

However, 51 percent of families chose remote learning. The district anticipated more to choose in-person instruction. “What that told us is there is a huge demand for remote learning at all levels, and early childhood was among those levels,” says RPS 205 Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. “We had not thought it would be an easy option, or age appropriate option but the demand came in loud and clear, and the state gave us support.”

It’s important for families to know choosing remote learning for early childhood education comes with family responsibilities.

“The best way to explain our remote option is that it’s really about coaching our families, and parents and caregivers,” says Nelson. “So children will have an opportunity to engage with technology through daily read along with their teachers, through small group activities. We’re going to offer every child at least three small group activities.”

There are currently 150 to 180 jobs posted for remote only teachers at the early childhood level. Human Resource director Matt Zediker says since Friday only a few dozen applied. He says the district encourages teachers who have concerns to apply.

“There may be a misnomer that these positions are just for individuals that need medical accommodation, which is not true,” says Zediker.

The decreased demand for in-person instruction also means the middle and high schools will get rid of the A/B schedule twice a week. Instead, one group of students will be in the building twice a week, and remote for three days. The exact schedule is not solidified at this time.

Zediker tells 23 News a handful of teachers retired due to the COVID-19 circumstances. He also says there will be substitutes available.

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