Princeton and Milaca school district officials quickly turned to social media to provide updates about COVID-19 fall planning timelines after reopening scenarios were released by two state agencies.
Both districts posted information on their Facebook pages last week about future education plans, mentioning the week of Aug. 17 as an initial target period for sharing information with families.
Princeton Public Schools conducted an initial meeting of its Fall Planning Task Force on Wednesday, June 17, the day prior to an anticipated press conference conducted by state health and education officials.
The Princeton planning group is composed of staff members from all school district organization levels.
The task force is broken into five subcommittees that will focus on health and safety, student learning, climate and culture, operations, and communications.
It will create plans based upon three educational scenarios: in person/traditional school, distance learning, or a hybrid blend of both.
Detailed communications on how school will be held this fall will be shared with families no later than the week of Aug. 17, the district stated.
This will give Princeton school officials time to finalize their fall plans once the guidelines are published by the Minnesota Department of Education at the end of July.
MDE recommendations to schools that was released last week is providing school districts with the following guidance associated with three scenarios that will help them plan for the 2020-21 school year:
•Scenario 1: Return all students to school buildings following the most current CDC and MDH guidelines;
•Scenario 2: Return students to school buildings implementing a hybrid model following the most current CDC and MDH guidelines;
•Scenario 3: No students return to school buildings. Implement a distance learning model.
“While we are still awaiting guidance and information, we suspect we will likely be offering some hybrid mix of educational offerings this fall,” stated a Facebook post. “The educational format we pursue will depend on future orders from the governor, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health, and directives from the Minnesota Department of Education.”
Princeton Task Force subgroups will meet as needed to get organized, do research, and mobilize prior to official guidance from the MDE, the MDH, and the CDC.
A large group will get back together periodically to check in with subgroups and get updates. Working subgroups will intensify their meeting time the week of July 27, and be completed by August 14, 2020.
A communication to families is expected the week of Aug. 17. Princeton students are scheduled to return to school Sept. 8
Milaca Public Schools’ planning will be ongoing throughout the summer, stated Dave Wedin, curriculum and instruction coordinator, in a recent Facebook post. He added that the Minnesota Department of Education has requested school districts have a plan to address the following three possibilities:
The first option would be in-person learning for all students.
The second option would be hybrid learning with strict social distancing and capacity limits. This model would have a combination of students in attendance and distance learning. A schedule would be built to decrease the number of students in the building at a time under the hybrid learning approach.
The third option would be distance learning only, similar to this spring.
“Ideally, we could provide our community with a plan today, but unfortunately, that isn’t realistic as we continue to monitor the virus and wait for final guidance,” Wedin wrote, adding that it’s more than likely the Milaca School District’s final plan for this fall won’t be ready until early to mid-August.
“There is still a lot of time until the start of the school year and we are all hopeful for it to be as normal as possible,” Wedin added. “We are all wondering what the 2020-2021 school year will look like for our students.
To better prepare for the next school year, the MDE is working closely with MDH to plan for the 2020-21 school year. Wedin reported in his Facebook posts that officials at both state agencies want parents and families to share their distance learning experiences by taking a Fall Planning Survey.
“This feedback is extremely valuable, will help inform the department about balancing work and family responsibilities while also supporting student learners,” Wedin explained, adding the survey is available in English, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish, on MDE’s main website page and will close Tuesday, June 30.