Changes will begin Tuesday, Jan. 19
The Minnetonka School Board unanimously approved plans for the reopening of the district’s schools to in-person learning amid recent weeks of decreasing COVID-19 rates in local communities.
In mid-December, Gov. Tim Walz announced guidelines aimed at returning children to their elementary schools. The governor said the move was prompted by a better understanding of where and how the virus is circulating and because young children are believed to be less susceptible to serious complications from COVID-19. He said the state has also learned more about how to reduce the potential for spread in schools from success in other settings.
Superintendent Dennis Peterson’s proposal, which was approved Jan. 7 by the School Board, lays out a plan for elementary grades to return to the model in place on Nov. 24, which is when the district ended the hybrid model for K-8 and began the move to e-learning for all students. The change will begin Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Peterson said an exception for the Jan. 19 return is that third graders will not return to school until Monday, Feb. 1, due to the governor’s limit of returning more than three grades for the first two weeks of the new plan.
Students in grades 4-5 will also return to school Tuesday, Jan. 19, Peterson said, since those grades are in a separate building from grades K-3.
The overall plan will have K-2 students in the six elementary schools, students in grades 4-5 in classrooms at the high school and grade 3 students in e-learning from home Jan. 19-29. Peterson noted that students will continue to be in assigned pods with classroom sizes at 50% capacity and requirements for six-foot distancing through Jan. 29.
Students, teachers and staff members will be required to wear masks.
On Monday, Feb. 1, all students in grades K-5 will be allowed to move back to the in-person learning model at their school, though e-learning will continue to be an option for families if they so choose. The in-person model modifies the amount of social distancing expected, and it does not limit student numbers to 50% capacity.
“There will be some new protocols required,” Peterson said. “We have to have [COVID-19] testing readily available for our staff when we start in-person on Feb. 1.”
Peterson said middle school students will return to school Tuesday, Jan. 26, using the hybrid model (two days a week at school and e-learning from home three days a week) that was used at the beginning of the school year, if allowed by the governor based on COVID-19 rates.
Under the plan, it is intended that middle school students would move to full in-person learning beginning Monday, March 15, if allowed by the governor.
Minnetonka High School students will remain in full e-learning through most of January. On Thursday, Jan. 28, if allowed by the governor, they will begin using the hybrid learning model for the remainder of that week.
On Monday, Feb. 1, when students in grades 4-5 move back to their elementary schools, high school students will again have full access to Minnetonka High. Peterson said they will, most likely, still need to be on a hybrid learning model, with social distancing required and limiting classroom use to 50% capacity. Under the plan, students would be at school two days of the week and e-learning from home three days a week.
Full e-learning will also continue to be an option for middle and high school students.
If allowed by the governor, the district’s plan would move high school students to full in-person learning beginning Tuesday, March 16. Modified social distancing would be expected, and classrooms would no longer be required to limit numbers to 50% capacity, Peterson said. New safety protocols would also be implemented as required by the state.
For more information, visit minnetonkaschools.org/district/programs/health/coronavirus-response.
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