Summers at North Branch Area Public Schools (NBAPS) are a busy time for the staff that work year-round. There are always so many things to do to prepare for the next school year; cleaning and preparing our spaces, managing construction projects, coordinating transportation, creating schedules, and so on. This summer, however, is anything but typical.

This summer we are very much in the dark about what school will look like for staff, students, and families this fall. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will be sending frequent guidance to school districts over the summer, culminating with definitive guidance at the end of July. For now, MDE has informed school districts to prepare for three possible scenarios:

1. All students return to school buildings following CDC/MDH guidelines.

2. Students return using a hybrid model (in-person/distance learning) following CDC/MDH guidelines.

3. No students return, implement distance learning model.

When the end of July comes, school districts will need to be able to respond quickly to the guidelines. To be better prepared, NBAPS sent a “back to school” survey to all families last week. It is hoped we will get a “snap shot” of families’ anxiety levels right now.

Of course, we also know that attitudes about COVID-19 can change rapidly as new information is provided. Depending on how the summer goes, families may be more or less anxious about sending their kids to school a month from now. We don’t know! One thing I can say with some certainty is that there will be more surveys to come as the summer progresses and our knowledge of COVID-19 grows. School district families are likely to see more communication from NBAPS over the summer then they have become accustomed to.

Given that, I can’t express enough how appreciative staff have been that families remain so patient and understanding. We know you are as stressed about the unknown as we are and your lives have been impacted by the pandemic in a variety of ways, many of them negative. Your steady support through this process means the world to each and every one of us!

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