The Spring Lake Park School District plans to bring kindergartners and first-graders back to class full time this fall, while older students use hybrid learning models that combine in-person and distance learning. Parents were also given the option to enroll their students in distance-learning full time.
Gov. Tim Walz announced the state’s “safe learning plan” July 30 that gave guidance for school districts regarding when to use in-person classes, distance learning or a hybrid depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in the county where the district is located.
On Monday, Aug. 10, the Spring Lake Park School Board approved a resolution in favor of hybrid learning for the start of the school year based on Anoka County COVID-19 data. Use of the in-person and hybrid models is subject to change depending on Anoka County infection rates.
Students in grades two through 12 enrolled in the hybrid learning model will attend school in person for two days a week, and the other three days will be distance learning.
Students opting for full-time distance learning will be required to commit to at least one trimester of distance learning, but they may reevaluate at the end of each trimester.
“We’re going to do all we can to create a really engaging learning experience for our kids while we’re also balancing that with safety,” Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg said.
Last week, the district asked families to indicate what style of learning they prefer for the upcoming school year: hybrid learning or full-time distance learning. As of Monday, Aug. 10, 66% committed to hybrid learning and 34% distance learning.
“Overall parents have been very understanding that this is kind of a dynamic situation,” Ronneberg said.
The district’s distance learning model includes real-time and on-demand formats, with a greater emphasis on live instruction and small group learning, according to the district.
The distance learning option will also be used if school buildings are unable to open due to health and safety reasons. Ronneberg said the district will be looking at Anoka County COVID-19 data on a weekly basis and consider any adjustments as needed.
The hybrid learning student population will be split in half, and classrooms will operate at 50% capacity. One group of students will attend school in person on Mondays and Thursdays, and another will attend on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Safety precautions at the school include required mask use, social distancing and the use of hand sanitize and hand-washing.
Buses will transport students at 50% capacity, and seating charts will be used with siblings sitting next to each other.
Meals will be eaten in classrooms or the cafeteria while maintaining social distancing. A touch-free meal-purchasing system will be available, and there will be no self-serve food stations. Drinking fountains will not be used, but water bottle filling stations will be offered.
According to the district, schools will be regularly cleaned and frequently used surfaces will be cleans and disinfected throughout the day. No visitors will be allowed in any buildings unless preapproved by the school’s principal. To learn more about Spring Lake Park Schools’ COVID-19 learning and health and safety plans for the 2020-2021 school year, visit springlakeparkschools.org/Plan2020.