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If you have a ton of questions about the Rochester Public Schools 2020-21 school year, this is the story for you.

On Friday, August 13, 2020, Superintendent Michael Munoz joined KROC NEWS on the air for a conversation about the new year and a lot of people called in with questions. Not all callers were happy with the decisions that have been made. Others were sent in via text, Facebook, etc to preserve anonymity.

Topics include why they're starting grade school in school and not a hybrid model, why are golf outings allowed but not in person classes for students, and many more.

If you'd rather read the conversation, just scroll down and the entire transcript is there. (We use a transcription service so not all words/phrases may be accurate. I include time-stamps so you can more easily find the conversation in the podcast.

Just hit play!

Kim David/Townsquare Media

ROCHESTER PUBLIC ASKS QUESTIONS OF SUPERINTENDENT MUNOZ PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

  • AB - Andy Brownell
  • JR - James Rabe
  • MM - Superintendent Michael Munoz

JR (00:00):
Rochester today with Andy Brown, M and ms. James ravey on Newstalk 13, 40 [inaudible] and 96,900 FM as noted on our social media. Today is a very special show. We have superintendent Munoz from the Rochester public schools, joining Andy and me on what right now is a pretty darn nice morning. Good morning, gentlemen. Thanks for running.

AB (00:22):
Hey, good morning. Joining us. Yeah, good morning. So we are pleased and very blessed to have with us, the guy who is probably on the hottest seat in town and between the largest rock and the largest hard place who had to make, I can't imagine you had to make probably the most difficult decision in local government in recent memory. That's for sure. I'm superintendent Michael Munoz and the, uh, the plan for opening their schools. And, um, I got a lot of sympathy for you, Mike. I I've been thinking about you a lot and, and the folks as you went through this decision making process, because there's just no way you can come up with a solution that would have, uh, they'd anybody or maybe a large number of people. Happy. I think, um, there's just so many, it's so complex. And so the impact is so large on so many people that, uh, I'll just put it this way. I, I feel for you and I hope you're weathering the storm pretty well.

MM (01:22):
Well, yeah, it was, uh, you know, I told somebody the other day, this is probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make. And, uh, 40 plus years I've been in public education and, you know, I've, I've heard from students and families and staff who want to return to school in person. And I heard from the same number who are fearful about their safety, if we do return in person and learning. So it was definitely a, uh, a tough decision to make, but really, you know, I think not only are we looking at what's best for our students and staff, but we also know that our decisions not only are gonna impact our students and staff, it has the potential to impact our entire community. So it definitely was one, uh, that was very challenging, but we failed that the decision that we made, uh, right now is, is the right one.

And, uh, we'll continue to monitoring things to determine if we can maybe return more students back to school in the future. Okay. For those who might not be aware of what the plan is. I know you had a six hour long meeting with the school board to bring them up to speed on what the plan is, but maybe we could have a shorter synopsis of, uh, how, how the school district is going to handle the new school year with a pandemic still happening. Yeah, we, right now we announced, and like you said, the board approved on, uh, this past Monday, our, our back to play in schools and what it is is it's our pre K through fifth grade. And that, that also includes Lincoln K eight school will be in what they call the hybrid model. And what that means is that, uh, students will be in school, uh, in person, two days out of the week.

And the other three days there'll be, uh, doing distance learning. And the way that's going to look is, uh, we'll have a group, a, uh, of students that will be in school on Monday and Tuesday, I will take Wednesday as a distance learning day. And what that allows us to do is really do some really deep cleaning on that day in between the next group. So on Thursday and Friday, we'll bring in the cohort B group. So, uh, that's what we'll look at at the elementary level. And then, like I said, K eight, uh, and then we also, no, you know, while we're in that hybrid model, the students, when they're on campus, we're really going to make sure that our students and staff maintain that six foot sofa distancing, um, and, uh, other practices, and really try to limit, uh, the movement of our students.

You know, at the elementary level, it's much easier because they're most cases they are in, um, that one classroom and what that one group of students. So we think that's going to work out better. And then, um, at the secondary level, we're looking at doing what we can Koa distance learning. Plus, uh, students will have distance learning five days a week, but the plus part of it is that we have some groups of students that we want to bring in, uh, like the hybrid model, our intensive special ed programs, uh, our ELL students and other groups of students that really may need some additional support.

We know we need to be able to bring them in a while, practicing social distancing. Uh, so that's what we'll look at the, at the secondary level, um, that is a little more conservative than what came out of MDE, but we just felt that it's really the best decision for us at this time.

MM (04:51):
Um, you know, I get asked, well, why are you doing hybrid for elementary and not from secondary we refill that we can, we can be more successful having, uh, that six foot social audition scene at the elementary level. They tend to really follow the directions of our adults and, uh, maybe a little more challenging to get that six foot social audition scene at the middle school and high school level. Um, you know, I know individuals or maybe would prefer a decision done differently, but we really feel so right when force and, you know, even if you look past the country, I, you know, I saw something on the news earlier this week, that in a district, in that it's in a County in Georgia, uh, they opened up this this week. And, uh, with, you know, before the week was out, they had, uh, 1200 students and staff that were already in quarantine and they ended up closing two of their high school. So, um, you know, I think it's, it's, uh, a little more conservative, but we think we that's the direction we need to go right now. And we, we told families that, uh, you will, at the six week career, we will reevaluate it and see if we can, uh, make some adjustments on our plan.

AB (06:04):
Okay. Superintendent Michael Munoz from the Rochester public schools. Um, I do have a question that was sent to us through Facebook by Brianna kind of ties in with what you just said about, um, what was happening in Georgia and students being quarantined. How are elementary schools preparing to handle the inevitable situation of a teacher or student testing positive will the whole class be sent home for two weeks? What happens if they come back and someone else's positive and also the state education department previously discussed providing mail in saliva based test kits to the schools. Is there any more information on that?

MM (06:43):
Well, yeah, I can I'll address the, the second one first. And, um, we were on a call yesterday with the commissioner of education and then the governor also joined, joined us on our call yesterday. And, uh, they did talk about that. That is not want to be perfectly clear. We're not going to require staff or students to take that test. It's just something that the state is making available, but in conversation with the medical experts that we've been working with for quite some time now, uh, there's not a lot of, um, I guess that's not one that they really put a lot of, uh, maybe value is not the right word, but it's not something that is as good as the other type of testing that can be done. So, um, but it is not going to be a requirement that students staff use that my understanding is that will be one, will be made available to them.

MM (07:36):
And that's something that they can choose to do if they want to, uh, back to the first part of the question we, we work, uh, with public health, uh, when there is a positive, uh, test, we work with them to help them do their, uh, contact tracing. And they're the ones that determine, uh, which groups of students, uh, need to quarantine and for how long. Um, but we anticipate that if we do have a, uh, a positive test in one of our elementary, he's, um, it's a good chance that, that, uh, those half of students that were either in group a or B a would have to quarantine along with that teacher, then they would have to move to a distance learning model, uh, during that time. Okay.

JR (08:18):
Talk about, excuse me, a second. When you talk about, uh, uh, notifications, whenever, you know, you have a teacher or students, uh, will it just be people that we're interacting with that student or teacher that gets notified or will, is there a threshold we have to read five, six, seven students before the entire, uh, community is made aware of that issue?

MM (08:37):
Well, that's probably a public health question, not a question that I make because that's something that they determine, uh, how, who gets communicated to, and then they actually have a template letter that we would use to inform, uh, those individuals that need to, um, quarantine. And they, you know, they're the ones that do all their contact tracing, really our role in that is just making them aware of maybe what group of students were with that group, that student, then they're the ones that go ahead.

JR (09:09):
Oh, I was gonna say, I did a story about it. And it's very clear that they do notify, um, the people right around the kid. But I know a lot of parents were saying, well, if it's even in the school, shouldn't I know about it. And I'm wondering if that's, if that's something philosophically you've all talked about, or if you have an answer for that.

MM (09:24):
Yeah, no, I mean, just like other incidents, uh, not beyond the COVID they dictate, um, if it's a classroom that gets notified or if it's the entire school, that's something that we control. So we just take the guidance from them and, uh, work with them to, uh, inform those individuals that need to be made aware. It's not a decision that's made by the district.

AB (09:47):
So I suppose you've dealt with that with the whooping cough situation and other, and other viruses that have come out there. Yeah.

MM (09:54):
We've had other viruses since I've been here where I know we've sent out letters to, uh, families for entire school, or in some cases it's just been, uh, a particular classroom or a grade level. So, you know, we really kind of leave it to the experts to determine who needs to be informed and how that happens. So, uh, you know, that's, that's the call that they make, and then we just work with them to do that communication.

AB (10:20):
Well, Mike, before we take our first break here, Rianna also asks in connection with that discussion about the saliva based test, or are there any plans to have any sort of regular testing for the, either the teachers of the students as we go through the school year?

MM (10:35):
No, we, we don't, uh, we aren't going to do that. You know, we would, you know, we have, um, roughly 1400, 1500 teachers and 18,000 plus students. Um, I just don't think our community would have the capacity to do that amount of testing on a regular basis. So that's not something that that's currently planned, but my understanding that individuals have the ability to work with their medical provider and arrange any type of testing that needs to take place.

AB (11:08):
All right. We're, uh, we're pleased to have with us this morning on Rochester today, superintendent of the Rochester public schools Michael Munoz. And of course, we're talking about the opening of the schools and just a few weeks, and we'll continue with that. When we come back

JR (11:20):
Looking across the street and seeing the sun come down and the, uh, the scooters lined up outside the coffee shop must be a party going on over there. Hey, James Rabe, Andy Brown ell in his home studio. And I assume from his office or wherever the, the superintendent hangs out the superintendent of Rochester public schools. Hello and welcome

AB (11:49):
Are there. And I guess we could throw that phone number out there as well. If somebody else has a question that, uh, we don't cover, um, it's (507) 282-1234 for our studio line for Rochester today. Um, like out here, we kind of talked about this a little bit and I'll throw it at you. If you have a family of a student still is very, very concerned about sending their child to class even part time. Um, my understanding is that you have an option that they can distance learn. Is that correct?

MM (12:22):
Yeah, we're for in this case, it would be elementary parents. If they're not comfortable doing the hybrid model, they can choose to do pull distance learning. And, uh, we, you know, right now we have some families that have done that already at Longfellow and we anticipate will, uh, have the, um, across the district. So we're planning on it already. And, you know, we also have been working with our, uh, our teachers and surveying them. And, uh, we know we have some teachers who may have a health risk that wouldn't allow them to be, uh, in person. So we're hoping to use those staff to teach the, uh, full distance learning students.

So, um, you know, for example, if we have a second grade teacher that has a medical reason that doesn't allow them to come and do in-person instruction, uh, they could work with a group of second graders across the district that are doing distance learning from home. And, uh, you know, almost like forming our own little district online school with, uh, separate teachers, uh, for that. So, um, we just thought it was important to provide that option for our, right now, our elementary families, because, uh, you know, I'd been hearing that some of them are very powerful to send their child to school, but we still wanted to provide an education for them. So we made sure that option was available to them.

JR (13:49):
Awesome. This is Rochester's news talk 1349 FM. Thank you for calling in. What would you like to ask?

CALLER (13:57):
Good morning. I got questions. I guess I have two questions real quick. Is, did you ever think about just moving the teachers to the different classrooms versus moving the students that would save a lot of time, the kids mingling and moving around where we just moved the teachers. And second of all, what do you do with the teachers, the Fiat teachers, the music teachers and everything else that really can't do any of that stuff by virtual learning. Um, are they still on the payroll? Are they, um, not on the payroll of teachers like that shop teacher, do you ever things where you would actually have to have a kid in class in order to teach them I'll hang up and listen, thank you.

MM (14:44):
Yeah. At the elementary level, we are having conversations and we, we feel like maybe the art teacher and the music teacher can come into the classroom. So that eliminates another time where we'd have students out in the hallways transferring to another classroom. So looking at doing that, uh, PE is, is, um, even though we did do some virtual PE last spring, we think that we can take students outside and, and practice social distance out there. We'll be fine there. And then at the, uh, high school level, I think was second part of the question, and that's something that we know there's going to be opportunities for, like your industrial tech courses or like our manufacturing courses at tech and our CNA CNA program at C tech.

There's going to be times where we're going to have to bring in small groups of students to do, uh, some of the projects that they can't do virtually. So we do, that's why we've been calling it a distance learning plus because we know what times for some courses you're going to have to bring in some small groups of students at a time to, uh, you know, work on that machinery or, or, uh, that carpentry project that you can't do virtually. So we are going to, uh, provide that opportunity.

JR (15:47):
Isn't it true that often a physical education teachers and other teachers that are doing, what would you call it? Extracurricular, non-classroom activities. Aren't they often also certified in other areas,

AB (16:01):
Uh, in some cases they can be, but, uh, we just felt it's still important to provide those experiences for our students. And I do know some districts are looking at using some of those teachers to, uh, take, uh, a flight, for example, at the elementary level and take a class on their own. Uh, you know, some of these schools that are bringing all of their elementary students back, um, at least some of the superintendents I talked to they're using other spaces to, you know, to bring in that other half of that second grade classroom, but maybe using one of their specials teachers to teach that class. But we just thought that was important to continue to having those opportunities for our students. So, uh, that's why we're electing to have them still either come into classroom to teach that lesson, or like an example in PE they can go outside at least now while the weather's good go outside to, uh, teach that PE class.

AB (16:55):
Um, you mentioned earlier, we talked a little bit about the, both the teachers and the students, um, having the option of doing either distance learning or distance teaching. Do you have any, um, graph yet? Um, the numbers, uh, have there is there,

MM (17:15):
Yeah, I think we, that today's, I think the deadline on the staff and what I heard, I think yesterday we were at, um, just under 50 teachers, uh, across the district. So, um, what we need to get is we're requiring medical documentation, that they are, you know, either they or a family member at home habit at risk, one of the CDC are at risk category. So, uh, so right now I think we're right around 50 teachers. Um, I think what I heard at Longfellow had about 45 students out of that building chose school, distance learning.

So, um, like I said, so we're anticipating, I think it's right around. I think that would have been close to about 18% of, of one fellows. So we're anticipating, you know, right around maybe 20% at every building, uh, may choose full distance learning. But, um, that information is I do believe closes today. And then the cabinet is going to take a look at that, uh, Monday and, you know, start splitting up those classes and assigning teachers to those groups of students.

JR (18:24):
Excellent. We had to take a break for news and we have some calls ready to go after the news here with superintendent Munoz from the Rochester public schools on Rochester Today

(AFTER BREAK) JR
I'm the James Rabe, Andy Brunel in his home studio on the line. We have superintendent Munoz from the Rochester public schools and a listener. Thank you for hanging on through the break. What did you want to ask the superintendent Munoz?

CALLER (18:54):
Oh, good morning, gentlemen. Mr. Munoz. I certainly appreciate the difficult decisions you had to make recently. I was so bad for you in the winter when you had to make those snow day calls. Those probably looked kind of pleasant compared to this couple of things. I'm concerned that there's not an option for the hybrid model. I was very disappointed in the online learning last spring, and I understand we had to go to a quick, and we didn't have time to adapt, but it was pretty underwhelming. It basically, I think education stopped the day. They came home, to be honest with you.

And I worry about that. And I really wish we had an option for the parents who felt strongly that their kids should be in school at least two days a week. They get some contact with their friends. They get some contact with the teachers.

CALLER CONT (19:41):
They could get their assignments, come home and work on them. I really think that would be ideal, but I understand there's a lot of parents that feel otherwise. But couple of questions I have for you now, I have been reading the comments and you feel strongly. It seems that the teacher should be in the classroom, even on the online learning teaching from there. Whereas there has been a lot of concerns that some teachers don't want to do that I would strongly encourage that.

I think the educators need to be in the classrooms. We need to keep us as professional as we can. And I think it needs to be monitored carefully. And the other question I have is the busing issue. What do we do? I'm hearing from some of my colleagues who have smaller kids, that their daycare is no longer going to accept the kids that are in the hybrid learning because they either want them all or days or no day. So this, I appreciate, I really appreciate what a lot of parents with younger children are going through. And I think, you know, the sooner we can make the decision in October, the better it would be for people to make plans to.

MM (21:20):
Yeah. Yeah. I agree with that. And you brought up a really point to the 50% capacity on the buses really, uh, makes it challenging. And, and also trying to keep students spread out with 50% capacity on a buses is also very challenging as well. Um, and I agree with you. I, I would agree that our distance learning that we provided, uh, last spring was not at the level that it needs to be.

We're hoping with some of the changes we made this year and, you know, the one you brought up having teachers in the classroom I think would really help with that. And they'll right now, the, the secondary principals are meeting and, and potentially looking at trying to go to a block schedule where a student would not, uh, like maybe an AB block schedule. So on day a, they would have half of their classes. And then the next day they'd have the other half of their classes. And, and, um, having students, uh, check in when that class starts, even though they will not spend the entire time in front of a computer, but they, you know, if my example is, if my English class starts at this time, that's when a student needs to log on and that teacher will provide a lesson and then, um, they will not spend the entire time on that computer doing that.

CALLER: (22:05):
But, uh, and then I have in the beginning of that time, sorry, this is the beginning of the hour that for English, you said you would have the teacher present a lecture and we'd expect the kids to be on for that.

MM (22:14):
Yeah. Yeah. And that's what we were hoping to do because one of the things that we also heard too, that, um, was not having a schedule like that. It was easier for the older kids to disengage and not connect, but, you know, it's like, you know, the ideal thing is having them physically in the school where they're following that schedule, but we're going to try to do that online.

And then, um, we are having stricter expectations for our staff and providing that, that, uh, lesson, uh, but then, you know, the plus part of the distance learning, you know, if a student needs to come in for additional help, uh, or some reteaching or something like that, uh, we're going to allow that to happen in small groups and practicing social distancing. And so we think that'll also make it a much better experience for our students.

CALLER (23:03):
Okay. Well, that's reassuring, you know, last spring…

MM (23:10):
Yeah. I said we're, our, our hope is to get kids in schools as quickly as possible. And, you know, we, we have, uh, a covert advisory team made up a cabinet and a couple of board members and a couple of union leadership and representative from Mayo clinic and Graham from public health. And we're getting together every two weeks and we're going to be looking at, you know, our COVID cases and having conversations and, and see when we can make adjustments to our current plan.

CALLER (23:43):
Okay. So the first reassessment is mid-October, is that right?

MM (23:47):
Yes. Uh, w we, we felt it was important to let families know that, you know, at six weeks where we're going to evaluate it and let you know either we're going to stay with this, or here's how we're going to change, uh, unless things really go bad, you know, before that six week time. But, um, we just thought it was important to put some kind of timeline out there. So at least parents have an expectation of when they can potentially hear when something may change.

CALLER (23:59):
Right. Okay. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it. I feel better after talking to you. Alright. Thanks for calling. Thanks. Bye. Bye.

JR (24:13):
It is Rochester today. Rochester's news talk, 1340 AM and 96, nine FM conversations with the superintendent of Rochester public schools, Michael Munoz. Andy Brunel. What are you thinking now?

AB (24:26):
You covered a lot of what I was going to ask you about the distance learning model. And, uh, that led me to another question, though, in the spring we had seen, as we have so many medical people in our community and other the governor's order, the school districts were required to have, um, um, I guess I don't know exactly how to describe it, but SAC programs for those children who are, what quote, unquote, tier one workers, um, is that going to apply this fall as well? And then how do you deal with distance learning? I mean, that situation,

MM (25:05):
Well, we, in a couple of things we were going to use, um, since all our elementary, we're going to have students in there. And, uh, so we're going to use our secondary sites, uh, to provide that childcare for those tiered one workers, uh, which our teachers, uh, and parents fall into that category as well. Uh, just like we, so it's gonna be very similar to what we did this past school year.

And then the, you know, one of the things that we struggled with last spring and we're trying to work with the department of education is, you know, they were first, they were telling us that we can't, um, while they're in our childcare, we cannot provide instruction or, or help them with our distance learning, but they eased up a little bit on that. So we know that those children that will be in our childcare, that we need to provide opportunities for them to, um, get online and, and, and have a computer to do their distance learning component. And we'll have individuals there not to actually teach them, but to support them while they're doing their distance learning.

AB (26:04):
Okay. And the technology component, all of all this, have you been able to over the summer now reach out to the households that perhaps have technology deficiencies for the,

MM (26:19):
Yes. We, uh, put out a, we, we call it a needs assessment to all of our families, and we asked them a couple of questions, like, you know, do, uh, will you need a device for your family? And then we ask them, do they have wifi? And then we also needed to ask them how many children to instruction do you have in your family? Because what we learned last spring is that we were able to provide at least a device for every family, but there were families that had multiple children and they were sharing that computer. So it was challenging. Uh, so we're really waiting to get back to the results of that needs assessment. And, you know, at least with past couple of days, or principals have been calling families that have not completed it yet just to, uh, encourage them to fill that out.

MM (27:04):
And then we just received some good news a couple of days ago that we're going to get some additional funding from the state that has to be spent by the end of December. So, uh, we're going to use a lot of that to purchase additional, uh, devices so we can provide, um, multiple devices for families that have more than one child in our school system. And then our technology department is also looking at what are some, you know, should we buy a bunch of hotspot to provide for those families that don't have wifi access. We're also looking at, you know, could we put something up on the roof of all of our schools that are, you know, to expand our wifi access to, you know, those families that live around our schools. And, uh, are there other locations that we could put up some type of wifi access or families can have that access?

JR (27:59):
This is Rochester today with Rochester's school superintendent Michael Munoz, and we have a call, Hey, thanks for calling KROC news. What do you have for the superintendent?

CALLER (28:08):
Oh, good morning, uh, superintendent, when y'all, um, I just wanted to call in, I certainly appreciate all the efforts that are going into solving this crisis. I'm disappointed that the kids aren't going back in the classroom, but I listened to a lot of the statistics and the information and the thoughts that went into avoiding the, putting our kids into, into danger. But yet I keep receiving some emails, for example, just the other day yesterday about a golf outing for the male hockey team, do the statistics and the dangers not applied to those extracurriculars, or where are we drawing the line between when do we not put other people in danger in this sort of situation?

MM (29:24):
You know, I can, I can only address the activities that are, uh, formally sponsored by the district. And we've been following the guidance from MDA. And, uh, for example, I know, um, drive by one of our high schools and I see, uh, groups, a group of 25 students, uh, band students out, working out in the parking lot with, uh, know good social distance scene.

And so we're aware of those that are allowed and, and really making sure that our adults who are supervising those situations are following social distancing and doing all of the requirements that the department of health requires. And, you know, for those that are really not you directly, uh, sponsored by the district, um, we don't have a lot of control over, but we do, uh, you know, if they do use one of our facilities, we do have a requirements that they have to submit a plan that shows that they're going to practice social distancing and all the other requirements that, uh, NDA has put out for like outside events. And, uh, but, you know, I agree there's a lot of things still happening in our communities that, um, maybe isn't doing the right thing. And I guess my message to our community is that, you know, the more that we as a community, uh, wear a mask and follow the guidance that the department of health is putting out, uh, I think our numbers are gonna re will continue to decrease and then African allow us to open things up more here at the school level.

So, um, I don't know if that's the answer you were looking for, but, you know, if it is something that the school was sponsoring, uh, then we do have requirements for them, but if it's something that's not directly connected to the district, um, they're kinda on their own to do what they are doing, I guess.

CALLER (30:33):
Well, I mean, if they're, if they're using district infrastructure to communicate these opportunities such as emails and so on and so forth, that would, to me imply that it is running through the district. And I just think that things should be applied across the board, if it's too dangerous to put the kids in school, that it might be too dangerous to go golfing and have these outings and to put people in harm's way. A I realized that, you know, you guys are in a tough spot to make these decisions, but, um, I just really think the kids should be back in the classroom and see these other events by the sponsored by the school district is steam, right?

If it's too dangerous to put them in the classroom and it might be too dangerous to do these other things as well. Yeah. I, I hear your point. And like I said, if it's something that, um, is connected, the district will we'll have to follow up on and making sure that they are following the requirements that we put out for things that are sponsored by the district.

CALLER (32:00): Sure. Thank you.

JR (32:01):
Thank you for calling in it is Rochester today. Rochester's Newstalk 1340 K R O C with superintendent Munoz from the Rochester public schools. Thank you. You are on the air with the superintendent.

CALLER (32:12):
Good morning. I just wanted to point out that, um, up at century, the band is social distancing. Uh, probably well beyond the six feet, um, go by there regularly. We happen to live behind there. So we get to hear them practice and they're doing a superb and a fine job. And, um, they shouldn't be penalized for what somebody else does or doesn't do, but I can tell you they're doing a great job.

MM (32:40):
Thank you so much. I'll second that too. Cause I, I drive by it frankly as well, and they are practicing what we're expecting them to do.

JR (32:53):
Well, I can, I can totally understand a parent that might be upset saying, Hey, they can do this, but they can't do that. And not knowing that it is a public versus a private event. I guess my question is I, I, I understand that students are expected to hold a certain standard while they're involved in events that, uh, are, are with their school logo and blazers and whatever else, right. They, when they're representing the school, does that not hold true for private events that could put on too?

MM (33:21):
Well, it gets down to something that worked really sponsoring. And I know there's times that we have, uh, things that aren't sponsored by the district, but because just like the example that the gentlemen mentioned, because the individual organizing that might've used, uh, his or her district email, it's implied that it's sponsored by the district and it, it truly is not.

So, you know, the fundraisers typically are run by the booster clubs or, you know, each sport has their own little group. And, but by the fact that they may have used a different email to advertise that individuals may believe that that's just something that the district is, uh, sponsoring and really is not with that.

JR (34:05):
We'll take a quick break here with superintendent Michael Munoz Rochester today with Andy Brownell and James Rabe on Newstalk 1340 and 96, nine FM.

JR (34:10):
We are having a conversation with Superintendent Michael Munoz from the Rochester public schools. And Andy, I know you had a thing you wanted to say, but I just received a message from someone that can't get through on the phone said, um, how many teachers have requested DL due to health concerns? I know we talked about that earlier, but do you have a number?

MM (34:36):
Yeah, I think it's right now, it was right around 50. So I think that's the latest update that I received.

JR (34:43):
All right. They have one more question. How will teachers teach face to face, hybrid and then help deep clean rooms at the same time?

MM (34:51):
Yeah, probably, you know, at the elementary, it's not going to be quite as much cause it's the same group of kids, uh, in there. But if we were, for example, at the secondary level where you have a different group of kids coming in for every class, you'd have to clean between classes. Uh, and you know, I think they're doing things a lot by limiting, you know, sharing of toys and, and crayons and things like that. So they're really going to have a good plan to, um, reduce the exposure within that classroom.

But there is an expectation that teachers may have to wipe down desks or something like that. If they happen to have a different group of kids coming in or whatever, but, um, it's going be challenging. It's not, you know, it's not, um, what we're typically used to doing, but it's the same because of the pandemic I need to do to keep not only our students, but our staff safe in the building.

JR (35:48):
Alright, I lied. She just sent another one. I'm guessing I'm guessing an educator here because it seems pretty specific. Um, why are we not starting everyone on distance learning since hybrid has a DL component? Wouldn't it make sense to start the set that routine and then add the layer of face to face?

MM (36:07):
Well, we had that conversation, but I can tell you what we've learned from our expiration spring to, um, our elementary students, especially the lower elementary, where they struggled with the distance learning and what we heard from our surveys from Paris, that it was very challenging for them because they were doing the instruction. Uh, so I think that was a big part of it that we felt that, uh, elementary is, uh, don't do as well with distance learning and more as expected as the parents.

So we felt by bringing them in two days a week would help address that. Whereas we feel our secondary students are more able to do the distance learning model, but, uh, that is, um, as I mentioned earlier, scaled back, uh, according to the MDE guidelines, we could be all elementary kids back in person and secondary at hybrid, but we chose to scale back a level for both grade age groups.

JR (37:03):
Alright, well, I hope that helps you, uh, mystery texter messenger. Now, Andy, I know you had some stuff you wanted to cover too here on Rochester Today.

AB (37:10):
Oh, really quickly. We're going to run out of time, faster than I wish we would. Um, the transportation component always challenging, um, as far as logistics is concerned, well, what will this look like for these, uh, the kids and I, and also when you said the distance learning, plus the kids who would be given the opportunity to participate in small groups in person, will they be transported by the bus system?

AB (37:34):
Yeah, for right now at the elementary, what we're working as we speak is we're splitting our students at the elementary up into group a group B. And then, then once you do that, you have to pull out those students who selected the L folder and then rebalance and then transportation we'll route those. So, um, I think we're hope our, our goal is next week to inform families on what days their students will be, uh, coming to school in person.

And then as far as the, the, uh, secondary students, we are going to provide transportation. That's gonna be a little more challenging. Um, we've talked about potentially running our norm, uh, some of our normal routing, uh, at the secondary level. So a student can jump on and, and get to school that way, but this is why we're asking them to make an appointment. So they'll have to call their office and say, I'd like to come in on Monday to get some help. Uh, and then the school will work with transportation to arrange it that, uh, transportation there may be a bus or may be one of the past school bands that we have to pick that student up.

JR (38:40): I think it's good news that there's no new school coming online this year.

MM (38:46):
Well, that's another thing we're also working on that $180 million building referendum too. So we've been busy working on that and, and, uh, pretty much to the point where we almost have fellows. The last one that we really are filled, uh, working on. But, um, I got pictures, uh, yesterday on their digging ground already at the new, uh, new elementary sites. So that one's, uh, moving ahead.

AB (39:15):
All right. And, uh, thank you very much, superintendent Michael Munoz. I appreciate you coming on and taking the calls and your time on the Ellipta is a topic that is unbelievably important for so many people in the community. Not only those with children in the school, the grandparents of the kids, the teachers everybody's connected to this and has a stake. That's why I appreciate your time.

MM (39:37):
You bet. Thank you. Enjoyed it. You bet

AB (39:40):
It we'll. We'll talk together a few weeks coming up on a Monday on Rochester today. Another opportunity, if you wish to call in to speak to a local civic leader, it will be the Rochester city council president, at least.

Listen to James Rabe Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11-Noon on KROC AM 1340 and 96.9 FM and Weekdays with Jessica Williams Weekday from 6 - 10 AM on Y-105 FM