RCS returns to total remote learning as COVID-19 cases surge


Mariam Hanna, Editor-in-chief

This school year has faced many obstacles and has exhibited that nothing is definite, and students of Rochester Community Schools can attest to that after receiving communication last night that they will be returning to a remote learning model until November 27. 

Just mid-last month, the district decided to return to school in two groups, adopting a hybrid schedule. The rise in COVID-19 cases, however, in Oakland County resulted in a step back.

This switch to remote learning did not come as a shock to most. Although it is not the outcome many students and teachers necessarily desired, they saw it coming due to this surge in cases.

“I cannot say I was surprised when I heard the voicemail left by the district,” senior Sulakshi Ram said. “With the many questions surrounding this pandemic, I made my peace with the fact that there will be many changes this year a while ago.”

Safety has been the main concern of RCS when making decisions regarding sending students back to school. At the beginning of October, the Oakland County Health Divison reported an average of 41 COVID cases per million a day, but that number has increased significantly as it now stands at 293. 

“Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to reinforce that the safety of our students, staff and families is our priority,” Dr. Robert Shaner, RCS Superintendent, explained in an email sent to families on Wednesday, Nov. 4. “Decisions about in-person or remote learning environments are taken seriously. As you may be aware, COVID-19 cases across the state and the county are growing exponentially.”

The hybrid model was instituted as a transition from remote learning to total in-person instruction. District officials intended to explore how having students back in the building would look and make a decision based on both their examination and the advice of health officials.

“When we introduced the short-term hybrid learning model by cohorts last month, we were optimistic that mitigation measures across the state would slow the spread of COVID-19 and enable our children to return to full-time, in-person learning, which has always been our goal,” Dr. Shaner said. “Unfortunately, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb, guidance from the OCHD indicates that we must reverse direction and take additional measures to keep our school community safe. This includes not only providing for the health and well-being of our students, but also for our teachers, administrators, and support staff.”

The question many students and staff now are asking is when, and if, a form of in-person learning will resume. Due to the novelty of this virus and its surge in infections, nobody has a definite answer.  

“Looking ahead, it is evident that we cannot predict the future; but we do know this, regardless of the mode of instruction, if we work together, we can continue to do great things for our students,” Dr. Shaner said, addressing this concern.