RPS moves temporarily to distance learning

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(ABC 6 News) – Rochester Public Schools announced its temporarily moving to distance learning beginning January 18

Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel sent an alert to families saying he made the difficult decision to temporarily transition our school district to distance learning for all students beginning on Tuesday, January 18, and extending through Friday, January 28, 2022.

Pekel said the primary reason for taking this step is not the spread of COVID-19 among students in our schools, but the impact of the Omicron variant on staff absences makes it "impossible to run our schools and programs safely and effectively amidst the current surge of the virus in our community."

Currently, 50% of our school buildings are experiencing significant staff shortages, including teachers, transportation drivers, school nurses, maintenance staff, and paraprofessionals.

The percentages of RPS students who have tested positive for COVID is lower than 10% in all of our schools and lower than 5% in most of our schools despite the significant increase in cases that have occurred in our community due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus.

Pekel also said the school district team considered transitioning only those school buildings with high staff shortages to distance learning rather than all schools in the district, but the likelihood of further increases in the percentages of our staff who are absent due to COVID in our other schools and programs led to the decision to make the shift for the district as a whole.

Distance learning is planned to return Monday, January 31st, and remain in-person learning after the period.


  • Distance Learning begins Tuesday, January 18, 2022. There are two already scheduled student days off within the next two weeks. Students will return to in-person learning on Monday, January 31.
  • Two weeks allows all sick students and staff and those who have been exposed and are incubating the virus to progress to being non-infectious by the time school resumes
  • Calendar For Families
    • Thursday, January 13: Students report to school
    • Friday, January 14: Students report to school
    • Monday, January 17: MLK Jr. Holiday, students do not have school
    • Tuesday, January 18 – Thursday, January 20: Students learn through Distance Learning
    • Friday, January 21: Students do not have school. This is a scheduled teacher workday due to the end of the semester.
    • Monday, January 24 – Friday, January 28: Students learn through Distance Learning


  • Please continue to report your child’s positive cases to your school building.


  • Free weekly meal kits will be available for drive-through pick-up on two Wednesdays, January 19 and 26, 11 AM to 2 PM, at Graham Park Fairgrounds, Building #35
  • Families may pick up one meal kit per child enrolled in Rochester Public Schools.
  • Please enter at 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.
  • 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.

School Age Child Care – SACC

  • SACC will be available to families currently enrolled in SACC. Watch for a message regarding registration from SACC.
  • Location: Hoover Elementary School (369 Elton Hills Dr NW, Rochester, MN 55901)
  • Hours: 6:30 AM – 6 PM
  • Students should bring their devices to SACC so that they can log on to their classrooms.
  • Breakfast and lunch will be offered to all SACC students.

Instruction (ALL students will be in DL)

  • Your child’s school and their teachers will communicate information on schedules and how to access documents with you.
  • General information for distance learning instruction can be found here.
  • For technology help, please call 1-800-789-0051.

Extracurricular Activities

  • Will remain as scheduled, provided the programs are able to run safely with appropriate staff.
  • Individuals registered for community education programs will receive notifications regarding their programming.

Community Rentals

  • Rentals will remain as scheduled.