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Elementary In-Person Model

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The preliminary FAQ provided below is based on the information we currently have.  It's subject to change as new information is received at the local and state level.  We will continue to provide updated information to staff and families as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience and support.
What is the in person learning model for all students?
In this model, schools create as much space as possible between students and staff as is feasible during the day, but are not held to strictly enforcing the 6 feet of social distancing. Students and staff follow COVID safety practices including but not limited to frequent hand washing, symptom checks, wearing masks, cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and cleaning each day to MDH/CDC guidelines related to the pandemic.
In addition, new mitigation strategies announced by the state include:
  • All public schools providing in-person or hybrid learning must offer on-site COVID testing to all staff that interact with students. The state said it will provide training and saliva test kits so that schools can conduct this testing.
  • It's strongly recommended that face masks and face shields be worn together by school staff at all times.  The District will supply masks and face shields for all staff.
  • Use of plastic barriers. Plastic barriers will be purchased to support small group or individual instruction and distributed appropriately.
  • In this model, families have the ability to choose distance learning rather than in person if they wish.
When would elementary in-person begin?
For families who choose full in-person, classes:
  • Monday, January 25: Kindergarten through second grade  
  • Monday, February 8:  Grades three through five 
  • Families may choose to remain in distance learning if they wish. 
In order to safely transition to an in-person or hybrid learning model, the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education require schools to implement a rolling start process in which students will gradually be brought back in the building.
How will you know which families choose in-person and which choose distance learning?
In order for the transition to in-person learning to be safe and successful for all, we need families to confirm what they plan to do. We'll do this through a Model Selection Form. Please complete one form for each of the birth to grade 5 students in your household by Friday January 8. Updated student learning model selection is critical for thoughtful planning and preparation, and for getting students back into their classrooms while keeping everyone in our school community safe.
Why is full in person learning for elementaries being considered?
On December 16, Governor Tim Walz announced updates to Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan for the 20-21 School Year that help prioritizand support in-person learning for elementary students. District and school administrators are reviewing the new guidelines and beginning to incorporate them into planning.  We’ll work to share preliminary plans with staff and families regularly over the coming days. 
The new state guidance is designed to prioritize in-person learning for the state’s youngest students.  Per the Governor’s announcement:
  • Schools play a critical role in the health, well-being, and education of Minnesota’s children.
  • Youngest kids are less susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19.
  • We have learned how to reduce spread in schools from success in other settings.
What about middle and high school students?
As per the state’s Safe Learning Plan, our middle school and high school students must continue with distance learning, with exploration and planning for returning to in-person learning as conditions and guidance allow. 
Does the state allow transition time before a model change like this?
Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan requires 2 to 5 days for preparation and transition to a less restrictive model change. 

To prepare for the transition, there would be no school for elementary students Pre-K through Grade 5 January 19, 20, and 21.  This includes elementary students in distance learning. Those three days were chosen to reduce the impact on students - they’re sandwiched between the Martin Luther King Jr. student holiday Monday January 18 and the Friday January 22 semester break, another student holiday.  Note, Tier 1 emergency childcare would be provided January 19, 20, 21.

Do students and staff need to wear face masks for in-person learning?
Per the Governor’s executive order, and Duluth Public Schools policy all students older than 5 years of age and staff will be required to wear cloth face coverings, (unless medically exempt).  Only students with documented medical conditions and/or IEP team determined cognitive or behavioral health concerns will be allowed to not wear a mask.
In the new guidance, face masks and face shields must be worn together by school staff at all times.
Masks are required in school and on buses for all who wish to attend school in person.
What about Tier 1 emergency child care?
When the district returns to in-person learning for Birth to Grade 5 students, Tier 1 childcare will no longer be available to students in these grade levels. Please contact K.E.Y. Zone if you are in need of before or after school childcare options.