On Monday, August 24, 2020 we announced a change in our start of the year school model for 2020-21. Students first day of classes continues to be Wednesday, September 9. The model for instruction has changed.
WHY ARE YOU MAKING A CHANGE?
The short answer is to ensure we are following Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) guidance to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. Additional health statistics have been made available to us since our Board’s August 6 meeting. At that time, the data line that our county health office refers to as “biweekly case rates for schools” was at 10.32. Data released last week now has the case rate at 17.06. That measure was as of August 8 and we anticipate the case count will continue to rise.
WHAT DOES THIS CHANGE MEAN FOR MY STUDENT?
If your family has signed up to distance learning, there is NO change for your student(s). You will receive information on who your child’s teacher is by the end of day Monday, August 31.
Students in grades K-5 who wish to attend in person will be divided into a Group A and a Group B. This will allow us to meet the health and safety standard of students six feet apart when in their classroom. Each group will attend two days a week and do distance learning three days a week. We will provide information to families about which group your child is in and which days they will attend by the end of the day Thursday, August 27. Bussing and essential workers childcare will be available. That information will be provided the week of August 31.
We know that this creates a greater child care need for our families who are not essential workers and are working with the YMCA to offer a fee based childcare program for K-6 families on days your child is not in school. The registration for this will be limited to a small number of students initially, as we again work to ensure the six feet of social distancing between children. We will provide registration information for this option when we notify you of the days your child will have in person learning.
Students in grades 6-8 will move to distance learning with support. This means NO in person Wednesday classes. The vast majority of students will do all distance learning. The “with support means” that
— all special education students’ IEPs will be reviewed by IEP teams to ensure students’ needs are being met. Parents/guardians are part of this team. With questions on this you can reach out to Nicole Kedrowski, our assistant special education coordinator at email@example.com or call her at (218) 728-9556, ext.3345.
— All students 504 plans will be reviewed to make any needed distance learning accommodations. With questions about this you can reach out to Dr Jennifer Fuchs, Principal, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (218) 728-9556, ext.5017
— If your student is not on an IEP or 504 plan but you have particular concerns about their needs in a distance learning model we want to work with you to meet those needs. Please reach out to our Junior Academy Dean of Students, email@example.com or call him at (218) 728-9556, ext. 5313 and we will work with you to address these needs.
WILL YOU BE CHANGING YOUR MODEL AGAIN?
It is our strong intent, barring health and safety concerns out of our control, to start the school year with the model outlined above and reevaluate the changes in mid October. The one caveat is — if the Duluth area reaches the biweekly case rate for schools of a score in the mid 40s or higher we would move all students to distance learning. If the numbers were to dramatically lessen we’d consider more in person days.
Once the school year begins, it is possible that a case of COVID or a suspected case of COVID could also necessitate the need to make a change for a classroom, grade level, academy or the entire school. These instances would involve direction and guidance from MDH as decisions are made.
The COVID virus is unpredictable and dangerous. We understand school changes are challenging for your family. In light of that, we are providing a variety of potential resources at the link below.
Please know these times are also challenging for us. All decisions are being made with our first focus on the health and safety of our students and staff. Your support as we navigate this difficult time is appreciated. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns.