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One of our teachers wrote the following sentence in his Parent Orientation handout:

We will not be learning these subjects daily rather they will be learned weekly as follows:

Should there be a comma before "rather", or perhaps a semicolon, and then a comma after "rather"?

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  • It appears the teacher is improperly using "rather" as a subordinating conjunction that means "though." Grammar doesn't require a comma before a subordinate clause that trails a main clause, though grammar suggests one when the information presented in the subordinate clause contrasts or contradicts the information in the preceding clause, which is why we so often see one before subordinating conjunctions like "though," "whereas," and so forth. – user361733 Sep 17 '19 at 18:35
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The issue is that no conjunction or punctuation is used to distinguish the two independent clauses:

We will not be learning these subjects daily | rather they will be learned weekly as follows:

There are two independent clauses, and rather modifies the second clause:

Clause 1: We will not be learning these subjects daily

Clause 2: Rather they will be learned weekly as follows

I suggest strategies that either separate or link independent clauses. Either start a new sentence with "rather" or use a conjunction with a comma to link the two clauses:

We will not be learning these subjects daily. Rather, they will be learned weekly as follows:

We will not be learning these subjects daily, but rather they will be learned weekly as follows:

The teacher could also use a semicolon if they think the two clauses are closely related:

We will not be learning these subjects daily; rather, they will be learned weekly as follows:

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Yes, there should be punctuation before rather to separate the two independent clauses. A semicolon would be fine. A comma would be less appropriate because of the lengths of the clauses. Commas are mainly used to separate short independent clauses when they're used in that context.

From The Elements of Style (1918):

Man proposes, God disposes.

To your second question, yes again; rather is a disjunct here (specifically, a sentence adverb, also called a sentential adverb), so it should be followed by a comma.

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