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RPS Launches Online Learning Platform For COVID-19

Richmond Public Schools recommends students follow along with RPS@Home material if possible. (Stock photo)
Richmond Public Schools recommends students follow along with RPS@Home material if possible. (Stock photo)

Richmond Public Schools launched a new online learning platform called RPS @ Home on Monday, with daily instructional videos, accompanying worksheets, and links to learning materials organized by weekday and grade level. 

“We really tried to provide a breadth of instruction and activities that would keep students engaged in learning,” Tracy Epp, Chief Academic Officer for Richmond Public Schools, told VPM. 

Teachers, specialists and administrators are chipping in to update the content for students. The platform also includes other resources for students with disabilities and English Language Learners, as well as a way to request tutoring services.

“On the page there’s a button for students to access tutoring,” Tracy Epp, Chief Academic Officer for Richmond Public Schools, told VPM. “And that comes in the form of a hotline so you can make a phone call, or you can set up virtual tutoring sessions via video chat.”

The district is not requiring students to complete the materials, but Epp says following along with the daily lessons is “strongly encouraged.” In an email newsletter Wednesday, the district clarified that preK-8 lessons are optional, but middle school students taking high school classes must complete one RPS @ Home module per class to receive credit. The modules won't be graded, but they must be completed.

“We definitely don't want families to feel that they have to take on the full task of a whole new profession [teaching] in addition to their day jobs,” Epp said. “Our goal was to provide families first and foremost resources. It is not to create stress, or anxiety.”

Epp adds that RPS @ Home work will not be graded. The Virginia Department of Education also recommends that teachers do not grade students’ work during the pandemic. 

“We feel that it would be unfair and inequitable to grade work when students have such a range of support available,” Epp said.

The district has finalized guidanceabout how final student grades will be calculated based on work done prior to the school closures. 

RPS has also published an FAQ page for high school seniors, explaining what must be done in order to graduate on-time. For some seniors already “on track” to pass all courses, there won’t be much left to do. If they were passing classes already, they don't have to complete any RPS @ Home modules.

But for seniors failing one or more classes when schools closed, there will be required material they need to complete before June 12 in order to receive course credit. According to the district email newsletter Wednesday, that material will be available Friday on the RPS @ Home website.

If a student isn’t able to complete it within that timeline, Epp says the district will work with students over the summer. 

“So that if a student has other obligations right now like caretaking, we'll certainly make sure that students have the opportunity to do that [receive course credit] later this summer if they need that opportunity,” Epp said.

Editor's note: this story has been updated to reflect new information the district released Wednesday.

Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia
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