Planning for a great 2020-21 School Year!
In late July, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will direct school districts on which of three learning models to implement to begin the 2020-21 school year. Over the past two months, three teams of district administrators, principal, teachers and staff have been designing the scenarios outlined by MDE and including health safety guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health.
As the governance body over public education State-wide, the decidion on which of the three scenarios will be implemented this fall will be made by MDE, not local school boards or superintendents. We anticipate that during the course of the coming school year, MDE may direct district to shift from one learning model to another, based on the behavior of the virus statewide and/or regionally. At a local level, it may be necessary to shift individual schools or classrooms to one of the other learning models for the same reason. The district would make this decision in collaboration with MDE and MDH.
MDE's Three Learning Scenarios
In-person Learning for All Students: To be implemented if COVID-19 metrics stabilize and/or improve. This would provide the maximum in-person learning with students and teachers present in classrooms and would feel most like a return to "normal" school. However, in order to mitigate spread of the coronavirus, MDE asks schools to create “as much space as is feasible” between students and teachers. Districts will not be held to enforcing six feet of social distancing. EPS would implement health safety practices such as limiting movement of students within the building. Per MDE, activities and extracurricular activities would continue to follow the COVID-19 Sports Guidance for Youth and Adults (PDF).
Hybrid Learning: To be implemented if COVID-19 metrics worsen at the local, regional or statewide level to provide greater mitigation potential by reducing the number of students on site. (Could also be implemented within a school if there is a cluster of cases within a classroom or school.) This learning model requires strict social distancing and capacity limits. It splits student learning time between in-person and distance learning in ways that complement and reinforce one another. Each week would include one day of distance learning for all student to accommodate cleaning, professional development, and teacher planning time.
Distance Learning Only: To be implemented if local, regional or statewide COVID-19 metrics worsen significantly. As with last spring’s learning experience, there woul be no in-person learning, rather it combines synchronous (live on-line learning) and asynchronous (independent online learning). We would continue to use familiar tools and work to increase familiarity with the Distance Learning model. Updates to this model are being designed based on lessons learned from the spring emergency.
As with classrooms, scenarios for school bus transportation are similar. In-person learning suggests that families site together and that the bus loads from back to front in order to mitigate spread of the virus. Hybrid Learning would limit bus capacity to 50% and require physical distancing. Distance Learning would not require district transportation.
MDE provided districts with a series of questions that is helping to define safe alternatives to the traditional lunch time, including location of where students will eat; timing of lunch periods; types of foods able to be served; sanitation for students, staff, equipment and point of service.