With an increase in positive COVID-19 cases at Rolla High School, Rolla 31 School District Superintendent Craig Hounsom said the district has decided to transition to a hybrid schedule for students in ninth through 12th grade to reduce the student population at the high school on a daily basis.

All of the district’s other buildings for students enrolled in prekindergarten through eighth grade will continue normal operations, Hounsom said. 

“This past week, Rolla High School has seen an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, and resulting quarantines, which has greatly impacted attendance and learning. We, along with local health officials, have concerns regarding the trend within Rolla High School and the health and safety of our staff and students,” Hounsom said in a letter to parents.

Hounsom said high school students will transition to the hybrid schedule beginning Oct. 5. There will be no classes Monday, Sept. 28 through Wednesday, Sept. 30, to allow staff time to prepare for the shift. Hounsom said classes on Thursday, Oct. 1, and Friday, Oct. 2, will be entirely virtual. All extracurricular activities and practices for Rolla High School are also canceled for the week. 

Beginning Oct. 5, Hounsom said Rolla High School students will be assigned to either the maroon group or gray group based on their last name. Students will be notified of their group assignment through student email and school messenger announcements early next week.

Hounsom said families with children who have different last names could request to have both children in the same group by calling the Rolla High School office.

Hounsom said the maroon group will attend seated classes on Monday and Wednesday and learn from home on Tuesday and Thursday. Students assigned to the gray group will attend seated courses on Tuesday and Thursday and learn from home Monday and Wednesday. 

All students will learn virtually on Friday and have scheduled time to connect with teachers, Hounsom said. 

Rolla High School students will be responsible for checking in virtually on the days they are learning from home. 

Hounsom said, “We will still be taking attendance, and students will be responsible for continued learning. Assignments will be graded just as during fully seated instruction, and will be managed through Google classroom."

Children who do not have a Chromebook or laptop will have one provided for them to check out and use at home. Hounsom said the district also has a limited number of mobile hotspots for families without internet access. Families can contact the Rolla High School office for more information. 

Rolla School District will continue to provide meals at no charge for all students. Hounsom said cafeteria service will operate as it has been for seated days, and students can collect meals to take home for their virtual learning days as they leave the building. 

All students can pick up meals from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 28, and Wednesday, Sept. 30, in the High School Cafeteria drive. 

“This hybrid schedule was designed as an intermediate step between full-time seated and full-time virtual classes. Our desire is to return to fully-seated classes as soon as possible,” Hounsom said.

Hounsom added the district will continue to work with local health officials and provide frequent updates throughout the process.

There are now 19 students and five staff members known to be infected with COVID-19 at Rolla School District, according to the district’s COVID-19 tracker on Friday.