COVID-19 Update April 3, 2020

Dear Families,

It is hard to believe that it was just three weeks ago that we received the initial news from Governor Noem that school was closing. In some respects, it feels like months have gone by. This week, the South Dakota Legislature passed a bill that gives school districts the flexibility to reduce the minimum school hours ordinarily required in State Codified Law.

As a result of this legislation, and in response to concerns regarding the workload for students and families, RCAS has made some changes in an effort to make distance learning more manageable for everyone.

While some things are still a work in progress as we await further direction from the State Department of Education, we hope this additional guidance will ease some of the tension related to student/parent workload that many are experiencing while still focusing on essential standards and the continuation of learning for our students.

Here are a few of the highlights, by level, of the changes to our guidance for teachers.

Elementary School

  • The guidance around the number of instructional minutes for elementary students has been reduced. Teachers should provide between 120 and 180 minutes of instruction per day (M-F).
  • After spring break, teachers will work to minimize, perhaps eliminate, paper-based instructional packets as a measure to curb the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Teachers will be prepared to deliver instruction through electronic means.
  • Elementary teachers will not be expected to complete report cards for Trimester 3.  Teachers will, however, continue to provide learning opportunities commensurate with guidance from the DOE and Dr. Simon regarding instructional hours.

Middle School

  • The guidance around the number of instructional minutes for middle school students has been reduced. Teachers should provide between 20 to 30 minutes of instruction per subject/class per day (M-F) for English, Math, Reading, Science and Social Studies and 20 minutes per subject/class per day for Encore/Elective Classes.
  • Grading will be based upon a student having achieved a level of proficiency for the standard being taught.  Struggling students will have multiple opportunities to recover, including retakes and additional time. Flexibility will be granted for assignment due dates.
  • At the middle school level, 4thquarter grades will be recorded as Pass/Fail. Final grades (end of year) will be recorded as an average of grades from the first three quarters and a consideration of the 4th quarter Pass/Fail marking.
  • After spring break, teachers will work to minimize, perhaps eliminate, paper-based instructional packets as a measure to curb the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Teachers will be prepared to deliver instruction through electronic means.

High School

  • The guidance around the number of instructional minutes for high school students has been reduced. Teachers should provide 30 minutes of instruction per subject/class per day (M-F).
  • Grading will be based upon a student having achieved a level of proficiency for the standard being taught.  Struggling students will have multiple opportunities to recover, including retakes and additional time. Flexibility will be granted for assignment due dates.
  • After spring break, teachers will work to minimize, perhaps eliminate, paper-based instructional packets as a measure to curb the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Teachers will be prepared to deliver all instruction through electronic means.

 

If school is reconvened prior to the end of May, teachers will resume face-to-face instruction. In the meantime—and I cannot stress this enough—please reach out to your students’ teachers if you have questions or if you need help regarding your student’s learning.  District administrators will continue to monitor, and if needed, adjust our instructional guidance as we continue to navigate uncertainty and adjust to this new paradigm of teaching and learning. We are all in this together!

For students who are using District technology, RCAS, has created a helpdesk for parent/students who are having computer issues and require assistance. The helpdesk number is (605) 791-5823. Press “1” for technical assistance. Calls will be answered beginning April 6th M-W between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. and then M-F, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. following the school calendar.

I wish you and your families a restful week of spring break, however you plan to spend it. While we had hoped to visit our family and grandchildren, we now look forward to having a virtual Easter together.

It looks as though spring weather will return quickly and just in time for the break ahead. Please stay safe and be well.

Sincerely,

Dr. Lori Simon
Superintendent