Nov. 9, 2020 Tiger Times Update From Princeton Superintendent Ben Barton:
Dear Princeton Tiger Families:
It appears we have delayed our shift to Distance Learning for secondary students as long as we can; we now have no choice.
This communication contains important information about the need for students attending the Middle School, High School, ALC, and Onward to begin Distance Learning on Thursday November 12, 2020.
Families with elementary-aged children will continue in the Hybrid Model.
Distance Learning: Middle and High School Students
As I’ve communicated before, our team has done everything we can to keep students in person as long as possible.
Unfortunately, our local community transmission and county case rate is not only above 50, we can see that it will spike beyond 100 in the coming weeks, based on local data related to COVID-19.
The challenge with the high rate is the number of staff who must be quarantined or absent due to contact tracing.
Therefore, the time has come to move our Middle School, High School, ALC, and Onward students into the Distance Learning Model.
The district will begin implementing full Distance Learning for students in Grades 6-12 on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, through at least two quarantine cycles, which is at least through Dec. 4.
The planning days we used last week prepared our staff to be able to shift as soon as possible; therefore, we expect a smooth transition into Distance Learning.
District leaders have been and will continue to work closely with local public health officials and the Minnesota Departments of Health and Education to track data regarding outbreaks within Princeton Public Schools and our communities. Like the rest of the state, community rates are projected to remain high through the end of the month.
Plan, Changes and Specifics
Our Princeton Playbook is our local safe learning plan that drives our decision-making. Every week we closely review:
The number of students and staff testing positive for COVID-19, which has increased significantly.
The number of students and staff in quarantine due to close contact with a person who has tested positive has increased significantly and is making it difficult, even impossible at some buildings, to operate our schools.
County case rates per 10,000 people is above 50 with no sign of it decreasing. County case rate projections indicate that COVID-19 cases are growing quickly in our area.
This public data is available on our website and is updated weekly.
The ability to appropriately staff all the positions necessary to deliver the high-quality and equitable education our students deserve. We are simply running out of people to keep our schools and services operating and to effectively address educational needs.
Distance Learning Expectations
In order to support our students with a meaningful distance learning experience and consistent routines, students are expected to attend and participate in each class period virtually following their current class schedule Monday through Friday.
Teachers will provide instruction and offer additional support via Zoom within each scheduled class period. In the event that students are absent, students should communicate with their teacher for an opportunity to make up the missed work.
Refer to Skyward Family Access to view your student’s schedule and class period times. Parents and/or students may contact teachers at any time. Staff will attempt to respond to parent inquiries within 24 hours.
Each secondary student has been provided a district-issued Chromebook for use during this distance learning period. Students in Grades 6-12 will use Schoology on their district-issued device to access their assignments during distance learning.
Please refer to our instructional technology website for technology tips and assistance, and read what Princeton Public Schools is doing to partner with families to protect the digital health of your child.
High School Athletics, Activities Continue
We believe that it is important for students to be able to participate in activities, for both the mental and physical health benefits. As we transition into the distance learning model, we plan to continue to allow students to participate in high school athletics and activities, if they so choose. The choice to participate will remain with the students and parents, unless there is a specific outbreak that affects any team or activity.
Middle school activities will be limited to only those that can be done virtually.
The Princeton Public Schools Health Services Team will continue to review any close contacts or positive cases within each program and will take the necessary measures to keep students safe.
Throughout this school year, and in alignment with MDE/MDH, the Minnesota State High School League has provided sport-specific COVID-19 safety guidance to member schools in order to assist them in operating athletics/activities in the safest possible manner. Our Athletic Department is strictly enforcing those guidelines.
Facility Use and Rentals
Building rental requests must be approved through the Community Education Office and must follow the Safe Learning Plan requirements. We will continue to require COVID-19 Preparedness Plans from eligible and approved renters. The school district will follow the cleaning and disinfection protocols outlined in the Safe Learning Plan.
Returning to In-Person or Hybrid Learning
At this time the future of COVID-19 is unknown. It is impossible for us to predict when we will return to in-person learning.
It will take all of us, working together, to decrease the spread of the virus so we can bring our children back to school.
We must implement the strategies set forth from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
We can improve our chances of getting our students back in school by wearing face coverings at all times while being sure to cover our mouth and nose; practicing six-foot or more social distancing; regularly cleaning work and learning environments; washing our hands frequently and thoroughly; staying away from large-group events; staying home when sick and following other recommended guidelines.
Later this afternoon you will be receiving an update from Nutrition Services about changes to Wednesday meal pickups. Changes include a longer pickup window and registering for meals to maintain the program integrity. Please look for that email this afternoon and review that information in full.
Thank you for your continued understanding and support. Please take care of yourself and your family. Together, we will get through this as a community.
Ben Barton Superintendent
Princeton Public Schools