The Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Health have asked school districts to plan the 2020-21 school year around three contingency models:
- Scenario 1: In-person learning for all students
- Scenario 2: Hybrid learning (combination of distance learning and in-person learning) with strict social distancing and capacity limits
- Scenario 3: Distance learning only
Planning will help ensure school communities are prepared for whatever the school year brings and able to shift between scenarios during the school year if necessary.
MDE plans to announce which scenario schools will use at the beginning of the school year by the week of July 27, 2020. The decision will be made in partnership with MDH and the Governor’s Office.
On June 18, MDH and MDE provided detailed guidance to school districts regarding the three scenarios, including public health safety and educational delivery.
“Duluth school and district administrators have spent several weeks in preliminary discussion and planning sessions,” said Bill Gronseth, Superintendent for Duluth Public Schools. “The additional information from the state will help Duluth schools fully develop local plans around those three models.” Gronseth said Duluth’s incoming superintendent, John Magas, has also been involved in preliminary planning and is prepared to take over July 1.
Gronseth says developing local plans means figuring out how to transport, teach and provide meals to students while following safety requirements like social distancing. For example, maintaining social distance means fewer students on a bus which may mean more bus runs. It means fewer children in a classroom or lunch room which means identifying how spaces can be used. Gronseth says it also includes looking at the possibility of providing technology and access to digital classrooms to all students, sharing information and soliciting feedback from families and staff.
“The pandemic is a continually evolving situation and a challenging one, with responses geared toward maintaining health and safety and providing a high-quality education to students,” said Gronseth. “It’s a community effort, the help and support of staff, families and the Duluth community is much appreciated.”
The Duluth School District conducted a local family survey related to distance learning at the end of the school year. MDE is asking parents to take a statewide survey about distance learning, Gronseth encourages Duluth families to participate. The state survey will close June 30.