ISD 549 Families and Residents,
I hope your summer is going well, and you’re all staying safe while enjoying this beautiful summer weather. While school is still months away, I understand there are many questions being asked about what we may expect for the return of school this fall. I’ll continue to keep you updated as we learn more from the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Department of Health, and Center for Disease Control.
The spring of 2020 brought about unprecedented changes to our society and our education system. As we look forward to the 2020-21 school year in our pre-kindergarten (pre-K) through grade 12 schools, we anticipate that SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – will continue to circulate. Students, teachers, and other school staff will be at risk for transmitting and acquiring infection. It is important that everyone in the school community take steps to reduce transmission, particularly to those at high risk, while balancing the need to maintain a strong education system that effectively supports staff, students, and communities.
Perham-Dent Public Schools is currently in the process of developing three contingency plans to prepare for the 2020-21 school year using the three scenarios described below:
- Scenario 1: In-person learning for all students. In this planning scenario, schools should create as much space between students and teachers as is feasible during the day, but will not be held strictly to enforcing 6 feet of social distancing during primary instructional time in the classroom. Activities and extracurricular programming should continue to follow the COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Youth, Student, and Child Care Programs (PDF) (www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/socialdistance.pdf). This scenario may be implemented if state COVID-19 metrics continue to stabilize and/or improve. All requirements in this guidance apply to scenario 1.
- Scenario 2: Hybrid model with strict social distancing and capacity limits. In this planning scenario, schools must limit the overall number of people in school facilities and on transportation vehicles to 50% maximum occupancy. Sufficient social distancing with at least 6 feet between people must occur at all times. If distancing cannot be achieved in a space or on a transportation vehicle, the number of occupants must be reduced. Schools must also include plans for contactless pick-up and/or delivery of meals and school materials for days that students and staff are not in the school building, as well as implementation of a school-age care program for critical workers. This scenario may be implemented if COVID-19 metrics worsen at the local, regional, or statewide level. Scenario 2 may also be implemented within a school if they experience clusters of cases within a classroom or the school. All requirements in this guidance apply to scenario 2, with additional requirements noted in the Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure section noted for scenario 2 only.
- Scenario 3: Distance learning only. This scenario may be implemented if local, regional, or statewide COVID-19 metrics worsen significantly enough to require the suspension of in-person learning. The requirements in this guidance regarding in-person protections would not apply to the general school community, as students and staff would be utilizing distance learning and would not be gathering in groups on school grounds. However, schools may be open to provide emergency child care or other functions.
Governor Walz’s Office, in consultation with MDH and MDE, will determine and announce the scenario model under which schools may reopen for the 2020-21 school year based on state COVID19 metrics by the week of July 27. Future decisions to increase or loosen restrictions will be made if COVID-19 metrics at the local, regional, or state level worsen or improve. Schools may choose to implement strategies that are more restrictive than the scenario established by the state, but may not choose to implement plans for a scenario that is less restrictive.
I appreciate your cooperativeness and understanding as we prepare for the fall. Like mentioned earlier, as decisions are handed down to school districts we will communicate those with you in a timely matter. Hopefully we can start school and activities under normal, yet safe, conditions in August.