I’m writing to update you on our planning for the new school year and to request your participation in some upcoming opportunities to share your thoughts about resuming school.
Planning for three likely scenarios
Yesterday, the Minnesota Dept. of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Dept. of Education (MDE) outlined three likely scenarios for the new school year and directed all school districts to prepare for all three scenarios.
Fortunately, we anticipated this guidance and had already started planning for all three possibilities.
At this time, we have more questions than answers, but I can tell you that a district-level planning team and four work groups (teaching and learning, operations, resources, and communication/stakeholder engagement) are already planning and will continue to do so throughout the summer.
Briefly, here are the three scenarios. Our understanding is that depending on the spread of the coronavirus, schools might use any or all three scenarios over the course of the year.
- In-person learning for all students
In this scenario, all students and staff would return to school buildings and would follow state guidance re social distancing, “as is feasible” during the day. A distance learning option would be provided to families who prefer that their children not return to school buildings.
- Hybrid learning with strict social distancing and capacity limits
Hybrid learning means students would be in buildings some days and participate in distance learning on other days. Schools would be expected to implement social distancing at all times, and the overall number of people in facilities (including buses) would be limited to no more than 50% capacity.
- Distance learning only (an evolved version of Spring 2020)
This scenario may be implemented if the incidence of coronavirus infections worsens enough to require the suspension of any in-person learning.
By sharing your thoughts about resuming school, you can help us plan more effectively
Over the coming weeks, you’ll receive invitations to provide your perspectives in two ways:
- A family survey sent to all parents/guardians by email. I’ll call to alert you to the survey when it becomes available.
- An online idea crowdsourcing tool (available in multiple languages) called “ThoughtExchange” that will ask you to respond anonymously to a broad open-ended question regarding planning for the new school year. You’ll be able to see other respondents’ ideas and rate them, and others will be able to rate your ideas. The tool will allow the ideas with the highest ratings to surface, along with why those ideas are considered important. I’ll let you know when this is available, too.
What we know at this time
- We know you are wondering what the new school year will look like (which scenario will be implemented) and what steps we’ll take to promote safe work and learning environments.
- We know MDE will provide further direction in late July regarding which scenario will be permitted in the new school year (at least to start the year; it’s also possible that as the virus shifts, our own plans will have to pivot accordingly).
- We know we have a great deal of work to do in a short amount of time, and that families and staff will want regular updates.
My promise to you
I promise that we will send updates (either from your principal or from me) throughout the summer to inform you about plans as they progress.
I also promise that the overall planning team and the four work groups will carefully consider the feedback we receive through the survey and the input we gather through the online idea generation tool and other input opportunities.