The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District is working on a phased-in plan for elementary students to return to in-person learning.

Gov. Tim Walz announced changes Dec. 16 in the state’s Safe Learning Plan to enable a phased-in return of elementary students to in person learning. District 196 officials said Dec. 17 they plan to share details of the district’s plan for elementary students by Jan. 8. All District 196 students have been under the distance learning model since November.

“We are excited to be able to bring elementary students back to school earlier than expected. We also recognize the sacrifices to make this a priority for families with school-age children who have been through so much during this pandemic,” the district said in a news release. “We learned about this new guidance for the first time on Wednesday and have started making our plans for safely bringing elementary students back to in-person learning at school.”

According to the district, the state plan allows three grade levels to be phased in at one time, beginning no sooner than Jan. 18, with the next three grades returning to in-person learning no sooner than two weeks later (Feb. 1). The District 196 plan will begin with the youngest children first (preK-grade 2), then bring back students in grades 3-5. The schedule and amount of in-person learning are yet to be determined and are dependent on adequate staffing, which is impacted by the level of community spread and increased mitigation measures.

Middle and high school students are not affected by the new changes and the secondary grades will stay in distance learning after winter break. The district will continue to follow current health and safety guidance for secondary students. Walz’s announcement allows high school sports and activities to resume with practices only on Jan. 4, the district said.

“As the governor said, we are in the middle of the long, dark Minnesota winter of COVID-19. But the sun is rising and there is hope on the horizon. We all need to take time over winter break to care for ourselves and our families. Please continue to follow the health and safety guidelines so we can bring all students back to school in person as soon as possible,” the release said.

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