Duluth Public Schools Academy (DPSA)
Dba Duluth Edison Charter Schools (DECS)
Distance Learning Plan 2020-21
Updated 12/7/20




During the 2020-21 school year, in light of the COVID pandemic, DECS is offering a distance learning program to any students whose family makes that request when the school is in an in person or hybrid model.  When/should local health conditions require it we will also utilize distance learning for as many students as needed up to all students in distance learning.

Our plan addressing communication pathways with student families, community input on student and family needs and other outreach opportunities.

DECS staff know that at the heart of students’ success are the relationships and connections between students and their teachers and support staff.  To that end, our priority is to reach every student and his/her family and, as needed, differentiate the instruction and support being offered to the student.

General communication includes emails to families, Facebook, and our website.  Teachers utilize  age appropriate technology tools (SeeSaw, Google Classroom, phone calls (often via Google Voice), Go Guardian and Schoology) and communicate grades via Infinite Campus and Schoology.  Administrators and teachers contact information has been shared with families and families are encouraged to reach out if needs or questions.

Our academy principals work  with teachers and our attendance staff.  We track daily connections with students both attendance and participation..  When this is not occurring we utilize social workers, counselors, cultural liaisons or other staff who may be able to connect with the families.  Our first focus is their basic needs and then we move on to what they can handle academically.

Our mission of academic and personal excellence for every student continues to be our focus as we do our best to connect with families and students each day.



Part A: Instructional Expectations

General Requirements:
Provide a general summary of the teaching and learning structures and platforms to be utilized during distance learning.  Include how the school ensures that all students will have equal access to the learning and required materials to successfully receive credit in their class, including technology.  Include voluntary prekindergarten or school readiness plus programs, if applicable.
K-5 instruction will primarily  happen for families through one of the two models identified below:

      • Model 1:  For students/families able to access technology and distance learning during the day, we have a daily schedule of learning opportunities.  Students engage with the various activities at the posted times.  This schedule represents a combination of teacher prepared videos, resources, lessons and activities that students could access at any time, and also the opportunity to interact with their teacher in live video teaching sessions.
      • Model 2:  If students/families are not able to participate in distance learning throughout the day, lessons, assignments, and activities are posted to classroom’s distance learning platforms, and students are able to access these at any time.  Teachers  correspond with students regarding assignments and progress through electronic communication.
      • Grades 6-8 Instruction : Schoology

NOTE:   For students/families for whom  the above models are not working,  teachers and teams work to develop plans for getting students similar lessons, assignments, and activities in a workable format.

If you are using an online learning system, outline the steps the school will take to ensure it can effectively support the district’s unique learning and teaching needs.
  • K-5 Online Learning Systems consist of Seesaw, Google Classroom and ZOOM.  All teachers and support staff will be involved as co teachers within each platform.
  • Grades 6-8  – We use Schoology and Zoom. We have additionally set up classes for our support staff and made them co-teachers in these platforms.
  • All students who wish to receive them are provided with access to a Chromebook and support for their use.  Technology and Internet options are made available to all families who request such assistance.
How will student learning and progress be: measured, monitored, and communicated to students and parent(s)/guardian(s)?
  • K-5:  Assignments are posted in Seesaw or Google Classroom. Staff use multiple measures including (daily feedback, grading assignments/quizzes, participation/ Report card grades are posted in Infinite Campus.  Teachers  communicate with students via small group and individualized instruction.  Parents receive weekly communication from classroom teachers.
  • Grades 6-8  Assignments are posted in Schoology. In addition Schoology sends automated weekly updates about work completed to families (previous to distance learning). Grades are  posted in IC, just like they were prior to distance learning.
Describe programming options for school nurses, school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, paraprofessionals, other school specialists and cultural liaisons.
  • Paraprofessionals – Paraprofessionals are assigned  to support special education students within the distance learning platforms being utilized at each building , at each academy and in each federal setting level.  Paraprofessionals are also  re-assigned to other special education functions needed in this distance learning environment, eg. amending IEPs and scheduling IEP meetings as well as emergency childcare for students on IEPs.
  • School Social Workers and Counselors support students within the distance learning frameworks in each academy.  Dependent on family internet access, they communicate and provide services via phone, email, Seesaw/Google Classroom/Schoology, Go Guardian and Zoom.  Home visits are conducted under MDE guidelines when safe and appropriate to do so.   The initial focus of services is connecting with students and families, assessing immediate personal and educational needs, facilitating resource procurement, problem solving and screening potential crisis situations.  Goal-based service sessions per student service plans follow.  School Social Workers and Counselors are collaborating with teachers on classroom SEL activities.  Their contact information and local community resources are posted prominently on the school website.
  • Cultural Liaisons reach out to students and families via phone, email, Seesaw/Zoom/ Schoology, Go Guardian and Zoom.  They  monitor student attendance and participation in educational programming, and facilitate problem solving.Home visits are conducted under MDE guidelines when safe and appropriate to do so.  They consult with teachers on curriculum when appropriate and collaborate with teachers on classroom activities dependent on student needs.
  • Our school nurse and health assistants monitor CDC and Minnesota Department of Health information related to COVID-19 and our schools’ response. During distance learning our health office is monitoring health needs in our emergency providers childcare program.  They are also providing information to, and staying in touch with families related to student health needs.  Our school nurse is acting as our COVID Contact with MDH/MDE  and fulfilling all notification requirements when a case of COVID occurs in our buildings.
All schools and districts that are required under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to consult with Tribal Nations must also collaborate with the Tribal Nations Education Committee (TNEC) members regarding the formulation of their distance learning plans.  If applicable,
  • In collaboration with our American Indian Parent Advisory Council (AIPAC) an Indian Education plan was created for distance learning, hybrid and in person learning.
Outline how attendance of students and staff will be tracked and how these expectations will be communicated to students, parents, and staff.  Note: the school board attendance policy must accommodate the implementation of this distance learning model for attendance. If not, the board should consider revising the policy.
  • K-5:  Teachers track attendance utilizing Infinite Campus. The Principal/Academy Director  monitors attendance via Infinite Campus and teacher communication.
  • Grades 6-8:  Courses have tasks for each day that they would normally have had class to complete.
  • Our attendance coordinators in each building, along with our Principalsmonitor student attendance and reach out to families whose students are not participating to determine how we can assist.
  • Staff attendance is monitored in the following ways:  Staff are to work out a daily schedule that meets their supervisor’s approval and then adhere to that schedule.  Staff are to report to their supervisor and a building administrator (HOS at North Star, Academy Director at Raleigh)  by 7 a.m. if they, or someone they need to care for, is sick and they can’t work or if they are exposed to COVID.
Outline the school’s plan for training staff, students and parents to ensure that your distance learning program can effectively be implemented.
  • Staff:  Given the demand at the start of the school year, we  assigned nine teachers to distance learning classes.  They work with our in person same grade level teachers to ensure continuity of instruction across the grade level.  We utilized two of the five MDE granted  planning days in November as we moved all K-5 students to hybrid learning.
  • Student Support Personnel:  The Student Support Services Manager works with School Social Workers, School Counselors, Student Support Specialists and Cultural Liaisons to develop service delivery plans within our distance learning frameworks.  The SSSM monitors service delivery and assists with problem solving as needed.
  • During our October professional development days additional training on distance learning and platforms like Actively Learn for reading, Dreambox for math, and 7 Generations Games for grades 3-8 across many subject areas and other PD training  was offered to teaching and paraprofessional staff to help enhance their skills and confidence in delivering distance learning.
  • A beginning of the year conference with each family set the stage for the distance learning class and orient students and families as to what the day will look like.  A parent/caregiver portal is available on the school’s website that provides training information and videos.  A tech help line and tech help email is available to families. Additional conferences occur regularly  throughout the year and teachers/staff are always available to respond to questions.
  • Our tech team has a tech help line set up for staff and families and offers periodic tech help sessions.  A variety of tech tools and training is also available on our web site.
Describe how your distance learning model is secure and will not allow for the release of protected student or staff information.
  • Our distance learning model utilizes  existing DECS managed applications and resources that are CIPA & FERPA compliant. In addition, we have several layers of security on these systems, including our Google Apps for Education Suite (GSUITES) and an advanced monitoring system on all student accounts (GOGUARDIAN) that monitors all student internet activity whether at school or off-site on home or remote internet connections. Goguardian will alert teachers and staff to any unsafe or questionable student browsing activity.  Students and staff have also received ongoing training throughout the year on internet safety.
  • Parents/guardians are notified of the risks and benefits associated with the use of technology to deliver Student Support Services and will be required to provide written consent in order for their child to receive services via video calls (e.g. Zoom).
Special Education Requirements: State and Federal law requires a school to continue to meet the all requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. 
Describe how the school will ensure supports identified on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan are provided.
  • 504 Plans – 504 plans are within Infinite Campus for all teachers to access.  District/School 504 Coordinators review all plans to ensure accommodations are implemented as stated.
  • Special Education – Within the distance learning plans for general education, special education  provides comparable services.  For example, special education teachers who were co-teaching continue to do so within the distance learning platforms.  Special education alternative classes continue and are provided for the same amount of time as general education classes.  Level 3 programs provide distance learning opportunities that are comparable to general education when appropriate and individualized plans are implemented for students who cannot participate in this manner.  Related service providers continue to provide services within these above models.  Pull-out services began  following the first week of implementation.  These services are provided via the best platform for individual students.  Accommodations appropriate to the distance learning model are provided.
Outline the school’s process for communicating with parents and guardians regarding their child’s services, which should include discussion regarding amending IEP’s to address how best to meet the student’s needs in a flexible learning model. This includes direct specialized instruction, related services, and accommodations
  • Case managers reach out to all caregivers by phone  or other technology  to describe how special education services will be provided.  Following this, Contingency Learning Plans (CLPs) were  developed to reflect these changes and  provided in writing either via email or mail depending on parent preference  We follow guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education and  Indigo Education regarding all due process requirements.
Describe the school’s protocol to communicate with administration and staff to prepare and support them in meeting the needs of students eligible for special education, child find activities, evaluations/reevaluations, and IEP implementation.
  • The Special Education Coordinator and Assistant Coordinators are responsible for keeping administration and staff informed of processes in place to meet the needs of special education students.  Zoom meetings occur  on a regular basis of at least weekly.  Child Find activities continue including referrals to Special Education Evaluation teams from school-based teams and parents. The Special Education Evaluation teams  meet on a weekly basis to discuss results of all evaluations.  IEP meetings are scheduled utilizing caregivers’ preferred communication method.
English Language Learner Requirements
Describe how the school will fulfill Individual Learning Plans for English Language Learners.  Include possible scaffolding methods available to support students in a distance learning environment.
  • NA , at this time we have no ELL students enrolled. If that changes, we will work out a plan for the student as required.
Describe the school’s plan for communicating with families that do not use English as a primary language.
  • NA, at this time we are not aware of any families who need communication in language other than English.  Should that change we will work out the needed plan.
Protections for Students Experiencing Homelessness or Housing Instability
Specify how the school will satisfy the Federal requirements of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2001, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, to support homelessness students throughout this crisis and promote their full participation in their education throughout the duration of the distance learning period.
  • Our homeless liaison works with the teachers and support staff for our homeless students and do all we can to ensure that they are able to participate in our program.  We’ll determine the most appropriate way to communicate with families based on individual needs.
How will the school monitor participation and engagement of homeless students in distance learning (e.g., including both attendance and performance.); potentially resulting in your school needing to change its staffing/support)?
  • Participation and engagement of homeless students is  measured as for all students but monitored by the assigned support staff member in collaboration with our homeless liaison.
How will the school monitor the efficacy of distance learning plans and approaches for all students including homeless students, and be prepared to consider alternatives or additional support needs as part of that review.
  • The efficacy of distance learning plans and approaches for homeless students are  monitored by the assigned support staff member in collaboration with our homeless liaison.
Describe how the school will maintain regular contact with local public health departments, county or Tribal human services departments, and Continuum of Care planning bodies on ongoing or emerging needs and to connect to resources that can assist students and families experiencing homelessness.
  • Our school nurse is our contact person with the local and state  public health department and in regular communication with them.  The Head of School consults with both health departments as well on at least a weekly basis.

Part B: Supplemental Services Expectations

Describe the school’s plan for providing meals to all children who need them.  Include: how families access meals, staffing plan for preparing and distributing meals, and method of distribution that aligns with public health guidelines.
  • The school communicates with all of our families related to their need for such meals.  Those who have indicated they would like to receive them are able to pick the meals at a school site or another designated location.  Delivery service is  available to free and reduced families who are unable to pick up their meals.
Describe the school’s plan for providing childcare for the elementary children of Tier 1 emergency and healthcare workers.  Include: how families access childcare, a plan for staffing childcare, transportation of childcare participants, if you plan to include children of Tier 2 workers, and plans for following the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health’s guidelines.
  • We have contracted with the Duluth YMCA to  provide childcare for Tier 1 emergency workers during regular school hours. .  Transportation is available via our bus company if needed.  All CDC and MDH protocol is being followed. Wrap around services for these families are available for a fee via our program with the YMCA.
How will the school maintain an awareness of, and be prepared to cope with, the potential impact these closures will have on the mental health and wellbeing of students, staff, and families.
  • All of the academies integrate Social Emotional Learning into their instructional programming.
  • Information about coping with stress from the CDC and MN Dept. of Health, community  mental health resources, and School Social Worker and Counselor contact information is posted on the website.  Teachers and other school personnel may refer students and families to the School Social Workers and Counselors for support, crisis intervention and resources.
  • School Social Workers and Counselors connect with the students and families they work with to assess personal needs, assist with problem solving, facilitate resource procurement, and screen potential crisis situations.  They continue to monitor student and family status through service delivery during distance learning.
  • The School Social Workers and Counselors, in consultation with the Administrative Team,  review Crisis Management Procedures and detail specific protocols for use within our distance learning model.
Describe how the school will provide information related to ‘how to talk to children’ about what is happening to change their school day.
  • Academy PBIS Teams prepared and staff delivered  lessons and activities to orient students and families to expectations, routines and procedures under the distance learning model. These lessons and activities are reviewed and retaught on a regular basis as needed.
  • School Social Workers and Counselors are available to assist teachers and families in talking with students about the changes happening at school and in our school models.