School officials at the Forest Lake Area School District continue to grapple with the assignment of planning for summer school.

That planning began Thursday, May 14, when Gov. Tim Walz announced schools around the state could open, at least on a limited basis, for summer school. In particular the emergency executive order granted schools the chance to offer what it called a “hybrid” model that includes in-school learning as well as the distance learning that became the norm when schools were closed in mid-March.

In the week that followed the governor’s announcement that schools could reopen on a limited basis in the summer, the Minnesota Department of Education continued to issue directives on summer school goals and guidelines that schools such as Forest Lake should follow. But with the uncertainly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, quickly setting up a summer school plan has been the equivalent of trying to hit a moving target.

Forest Lake Area Schools Superintendent Steve Massey said he can appreciate the difficulties in providing guidance to schools on this subject.

“The directives from the Minnesota Department of Education are not shifting because the folks there don’t have any idea of what they’re doing — they do,” Massey said. “They are evolving and shifting because our understanding of the pandemic is evolving and the guidelines from health officials are shifting. The MDE is just trying to hit the sweet spot...The data shifts, and their guidance evolves. That’s the fluid nature of dealing with a pandemic.”

The school district is working to finalize summer school plans, which will include a credit recovery program for high school students that will be online only. It begins on Monday, June 15, and ends on Wednesday, July 15.

Summer school for children from kindergarten through eighth grade will include both in-person and home instruction starting on Monday, June 22, until Friday, July 24. Classroom learning for students up to sixth grade will take place at Forest View Elementary, while junior high students will work at the Education Center.

In all cases there will be no school on Friday, July 3, in honor of the Fourth of July holiday.

“The plan already has taken shape; we are still fine-tuning the details,” Massey said. “We are not turning our original plan upside-down. We are just making sure our plan meets the current guidelines of the Minnesota Department of Education. We are judging our plan from every angle, and at the forefront of our plan is the goal to assure the safety of our students and staff.”

More details are at flaschools.org/Page/3531.

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