ROCK FALLS – Most Rock Falls High School students are heading back to school Monday on a split A/B schedule.
Under this format, students are divided into two groups, with one group in the building one day and the other in the building the next. The schedule alternates week to week, so one group will be in class Monday, Wednesday, Friday of one week and Tuesday and Thursday the next.
"We believe that in-person instruction is the best instruction for kids," Rock Falls superintendent Ron McCord said. "In order to have in-person instruction and comply with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the CDC guidelines, we thought it best to cut our enrollment in half as best we can to limit class size to 15 and under."
That way, students can be more spread out in the classroom and closer to six feet apart.
When not in class, students will be remote learning.
That's something all schools had to implement in the spring, but at Rock Falls, grades were not taken. This school year, it all counts.
"There were a lot of restrictions on what was allowed in the spring, no new learning, no new lessons, just a continuation of some sort of already-learned materials," McCord said. "Now, you have new learning going on where lessons have to be taught on new information."
Students will be receiving a computer and will be required to check in with a teacher's Google classroom on their remote learning days. They also can get in touch with teachers between 2:10 and 2:55 each day via Zoom if they have any questions.
Remote-learning students also can get lunch by ordering it online before 8:37 and picking it up between 11:15 and 11:45.
In-person schooling will look different with strict social distancing guidelines.
"There will be less independent work in those classes, because you need to give lessons, instruction done on the days you have the kids in person so they can work on their homework on the days they are remote," McCord said.
The bell schedule also will be different, with only 3 minutes between classes, and there will be no lockers, all to cut down on congregating in the hall.
Families also have the option of remote learning only for those who want it, for a medical reason or just personal preference. Those students still will be assigned to the A or B group, but will stream lessons live or see them on video on days others in the class are physically in the building.
Before students even enter the building, there will be temperature checks to make sure everyone is healthy before they walk in the door.
"If parents are self-certifying, there's no way to know," McCord said. "If Johnny comes in the doors on the S-curve, how would we know that his parents have self-certified, how would we know that? So we thought it best to do those screenings as they come in."
Gym class will look a lot different at Rock Falls this year, with locker rooms closed and students asked to come ready to go for a brisk walk in what they wore to school.
"You can certainly spread out and get outside as much as possible," McCord said. "The games, dodgeball and that type of thing, it will be more personal health than it would be team games and that sort of thing."