We just completed the most unusual school year most of us have experienced in our lives. The combined stresses of a pandemic that threatened our public health along with the related stay-at-home order, which required a shift to distance learning for all students (birth to adults), brought challenges none of us could have anticipated even six months ago. More recently, the senseless death of Mr. George Floyd changed Minnesota forever and activated new champions for justice here at home and around the globe.
A school year we’ll never forget
As I write this message, I’m reflecting on the full range of experiences over the past few months.
- As a parent of school-age children myself, I can relate to the stresses many of you felt when the role of homeschool teacher was suddenly thrust on you. It was difficult; yet, you rose to the challenge and I heard many stories about distance learning successes. You offered our teachers (who pivoted within a matter of days to a remote learning format) tremendous kindness and encouragement. They missed your children so much; I hope you felt their love coming through the mobile device screen!
- We know distance learning worked well for some students but not for all. The feedback you provided on the distance learning surveys helped us adjust mid-stream this spring and will help us improve, should we need distance learning again in the near or distant future.
- I felt the sadness of graduating seniors and their families, who missed out on the traditional culminating activities, including prom and in-person commencement ceremonies. In contrast, when I visited each high school’s drive-through graduation celebrations last Saturday, I saw nothing but joy, pride, and love among students, families and the staff who serve them. I couldn’t be more proud of the Class of 2020. Through difficult times, they showed remarkable resilience and persistence, two traits that will serve them well the rest of their lives.
What’s next: planning for 2020-2021
Having completed a most challenging 2019-2020 school year, we are now fully immersed in planning for 2020-2021. While everything remains subject to the whims of the coronavirus, we are doing our best to plan for any scenario that might be allowed by state officials. I want you to know that a team of district and school staff will be working all summer to prepare for the return of students next fall under any of three main scenarios:
- Remote/distance learning (an evolved version of spring 2020)
- Modified on-site learning (in school buildings, but under conditions that comply with state and federal guidance to reduce the spread of the coronavirus)
- Hybrid of both on-site and distance learning (mix of days in school buildings and days learning at home)
We anticipate that by the end of July, we’ll have guidance from the state about what will be allowed, and we intend to be ready for whatever is permitted.
Later this month, please watch for a survey that will help us understand how you’re feeling about your child returning to school in the fall. Your perspectives will help us plan as effectively as possible.
Stay in touch over the summer
- Follow us on Facebook: English; Hmong; Indian Education; Somali; Spanish; Vietnamese; West African
- Stop by one of our free summer meals locations
- Visit the district website (note: the website will move to a new platform over the summer)
- Be sure to read emails from the district; they’ll contain important information about plans for next fall
It continues to be my honor to serve as your superintendent. It’s been an amazing year for lots of reasons, including having the opportunity to meet your children and to see the outstanding work our employees, in every position, do to help every child achieve their dreams.
I hope this summer brings your family both rest and relaxation. Thank you for your valuable partnership.