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RCS halts attendance incentives amid coronavirus concerns

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 10, 2020

ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — In the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak, Rochester Community Schools has put a stop to all attendance incentives.

Although there were no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, in Michigan at press time — and experts say the current risk is still determined to be low — district officials said they recognize the seriousness of the situation.

Superintendent Robert Shaner sent a letter to parents via email alerting them of the policy change March 2.

“The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority, and we recognize the seriousness of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19,” Shaner said in the email. “We will continue to work in cooperation with the Oakland County Health Division, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Department of Education, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as we navigate this volatile and unprecedented situation.”

According to district officials, the CDC recently provided updated guidance for school administrators to help stop or slow the spread of respiratory infectious diseases.

Following the release of the guidelines, Shaner met with the district’s attendance committee to discuss the recommendations and ultimately decided to pause all attendance incentives at the K-12 levels — including elementary and middle school perfect attendance awards, and high school attendance incentives — “until further notice.”

RCS high school students could previously qualify to be exempt from their semester final exams if they had no more than three absences in any class during a semester, no suspensions during a semester, and a minimum grade of 77% in a class or a minimum grade of 65% and no missing assignments or assessments in a class. Every three tardies equals one absence, according to district policy.

“As always, all high school students should be prepared to take their exams,” Shaner said in the email. “We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and provide updates as they become available.”

District officials continue to strongly encourage all students and staff to stay home when they are sick. The CDC recommends that individuals with a flu-like illness stay home until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever.

“During this fluid and unprecedented time, we appreciate your support, flexibility and patience as we work to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” Shaner said in the email.

Everyday actions to help prevent the spread of influenza and the common cold — such as washing your hands often with soap and water, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoiding people with obvious symptoms, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces regularly — will also help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

People with questions or concerns about the attendance policy changes are asked to contact their building principal or use the Talk to Us feature on the district’s website, www.rochester.k12.mi.us.

Those with questions regarding the coronavirus can contact the Oakland County Health Division’s Nurse on Call at (800) 848-5533 or at noc@oakgov.com. For more information, go to www.oakgov.com/health.