I’m writing to let you know that on Monday, Oct. 12, I will ask the school board to approve a revised learning model recommendation to keep all preK-12 students in the hybrid model until further notice. This recommendation does not affect students in the Distance Learning Academy, who chose distance learning for the entire year.
The revised recommendation means that elementary students would not return to buildings for daily in-person instruction starting Oct. 19 as previously planned.
An increase in positive cases of coronavirus in Hennepin County and in our local communities is driving the need to remain in the hybrid model. I am in regular contact with state and county public health officials, and they have expressed concern about increasing community spread. As we’ve shared previously, school districts are required to implement learning models within parameters provided by the state; they cannot choose a model that is less restrictive than the parameters allow. The most recent virus case rates do not allow for full-time in-person learning.
I have heard passionate arguments from both ends of the in-person vs hybrid spectrum, so I know my recommendation will be welcome news to some of you and deeply disappointing to others. Please know that even though you may have a different perspective on any or all aspects of the pandemic and its impact on schools, Minnesota school districts are required to comply with state direction regarding decisions about learning models. My recommendation complies with that direction. If you’d like more information about how we make decisions, please view our ISD 279 Safe Learning Model, decision-making process tools, and readiness dashboards. I also regularly consult with county and state officials to seek their perspectives on learning model decisions.
I understand the stress the pandemic (and its implications for schools) is having on our families and staff; I feel it, too. If your child is struggling with school, please reach out to your child’s teacher(s) to share your concerns and to explore any additional support that may be needed.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate these challenging times. I know change is hard. As I’ve shared previously, you can expect that change will occur on a regular basis throughout the year. As virus activity changes, learning models will adjust accordingly, sometimes with limited notice.
I’ll be in touch again after Monday’s board meeting.