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Update on learning models; additional resources

Dear parents/caregivers:

I’m writing to update you on:

  • In-person learning for PK-grade 5
  • Planning for the return of secondary students in the hybrid model
  • Additional resources that may be helpful to your family

Starting Feb. 1: Grades 3-5 return for 100% in-person learning (does not apply to DLA)

Next Monday, students in grades 3-5 will return for full-time in-person learning. We are excited to have them back! Please note that a meal kit with two breakfasts and two lunches will be sent home with your child on Fridays. If you do not wish your child to be given meals for the weekend, please opt out of this service.

Planning for the return of grades 6-12 (does not apply to DLA)

Last night, I previewed the main ideas behind what I intend to propose for school board action at a special meeting this Friday at 7:30 a.m. (the meeting will be held virtually and livestreamed on the district website).

Here are those key ideas:

  • As of yesterday’s virus activity report from Hennepin County, county virus data and local community data are showing enough improvement that we can start planning for a rolling start that will bring secondary students back to buildings in the hybrid learning model.
  • The full in-person learning model is not an option for secondary students at this time because it does not comply with state guidance regarding virus case rate parameters for that learning model. (You may be aware that the state revised its guidance for elementary students, allowing their return to full-time in-person learning; however; the guidance remains as originally outlined for secondary students.)
  • We are tentatively planning to begin a rolling start for secondary students to return to hybrid learning that would bring middle school students and one or more high school grades (to be determined) back starting February 16.
  • Certain special education services for secondary students (gr. 6-12) will begin in person on February 16. Affected student families will be notified separately.
  • To help staff prepare for the transition to hybrid learning, there would be no school for secondary students (except for DLA) on Friday, February 12.
  • The remaining high school grades would return in the hybrid model on March 1.
  • The mandated rolling start approach allows for the return of up to 3 grades at a time per level. Therefore, while we can start grades 6-8 in hybrid all at once, our 9-12 high school grades will need to return in phases.
  • Over the next two days, I will seek the required support of our state Regional Support Team so that I can present a more detailed proposal for school board action this Friday.
  • I will contact you again on Friday, following board action, with final details.

I know some secondary families wish that we would have proceeded with these plans earlier because neighboring school districts were doing so. Please know that learning model decisions are based on multiple factors, including local community data. Our local data is not the same as our neighboring districts, which has led us to arrive at different decisions at different times. I respect your frustration, and I hope you understand that each district makes learning model decisions that reflect their local community data (among other factors, including student and staff safety).

Free meals and help purchasing groceries

Free breakfast and lunch remain available for curbside pickup Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at all secondary schools. A pack of meals for the weekend is provided on Fridays. Meal service plans will be adjusted for the hybrid model; I’ll share that information in my message this Friday.

In addition to the free school meals program, you may be eligible for financial assistance (Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT) to purchase food.

To be considered, you must apply for free or reduced-price meals for the 2020-21 school year or be approved for Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Applications received by Feb. 28 will be eligible for benefits retroactive to September 2020. To ensure you qualify for the most benefits, submit your application ASAP (look for “Meal Assistance” tab). Questions? Email PEBT.mde@state.mn.us.

Free COVID testing opportunities; remember to do health checks and report illness and close contacts

Free COVID-19 testing is available at state-sponsored testing sites. Find the list here.

It’s important to continue daily health checks before sending your child to school and report to your child’s school when your student is ill or has had close contact with a person with a confirmed case of coronavirus.

And, as always, please keep your child home if they are ill.

Thank you for your support

To all who have written to share words of encouragement, understanding and support for our staff during these challenging times: thank you! I’m grateful to work with such dedicated staff and supportive families.

Respectfully,

Cory McIntyre
Superintendent
 

Superintendent Cory McIntyre