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Rochester school board members weigh in on proposed fall semester model

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Elementary school in Rochester

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - While Rochester Public Schools has the plan for the fall finalized, it must be approved by the school board. The board meets Monday to discuss.

School board members seem to differ about specific details, however they do agree on one thing: the safety of the community and the kids comes first.

"At this point, I think this is the best solution we can come up with, and it's not perfect," said Jean Marvin, Rochester School Board vice-chair.

The plan is designed with safety in mind. Board members are aware that some districts across Minnesota plan to return to in-person learning full-time.

"In this regard, I define safe as putting our children and their well-being ahead of ourselves and our preferences," said Don Barlow, school board director. "I will unashamedly say that it is better to be safe than sorry."

There is also room in the plan for schools to be flexible.

"With that plan, there's built in provision to reevaluate every six weeks which I think is a great positive," Barlow said.

The first few months will answer a lot of questions.

"How they react. Can they keep their distance physically? Will they wear masks? How are our secondary students doing with a more improved distance delivery system?" Marvin asks.

Many students say they struggled with distance learning in the spring. The school boards hopes to have more resources available this semester.

"We will be there to help them," Marvin promises. "If they need additional support, they will be be to make an appointment and come into their school building."

She sympathizes with the parents who wish the year could start like any other.

"I understand how you feel. I wish this never happened," Marvin said. "Our kids and families love our schools. So do I. We will get through this."

While they both agree that the plan is well-done and is the best option for the grade level, they enter Monday's decision making meeting with an open mind. It could mean some last minute changes. For now, it seems that the model is at least penciled in and prepared to be used come fall semester.

Alex Tejada

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