Earlier this month, the COVID-19 Advisory Team* met to discuss data, vaccinations, changes in the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) quarantine guidelines, and indicators to safely return our students to the classroom. As you know, yesterday Governor Walz also provided changing guidance. As we enter into winter break, I want to provide an update regarding District plans.
Next Phase Announcement
Our next planned announcement regarding our learning model will be by January 8. On that date, we will be using the new elementary school guidance available to decide on a shift to either a hybrid or full in-person learning model at the elementary level.
The District will continue the current learning model for the secondary students (grades 6-12) because that guidance has not changed. Decisions on after school activities and athletics will be shared as soon as they are available.
On Wednesday, December 15, Governor Walz announced that elementary schools may choose to reopen as early as Jan. 18 with new mitigation measures in place. The Safe Learning Plan states:
Starting on January 18, 2021, every early learning program and elementary school across the state may choose to operate an in-person or hybrid learning model as long as they are able to implement the additional mitigation strategies...including a rolling start process in which students will gradually be brought back in the building. Early learning programs and elementary schools that are not currently in an in-person or hybrid learning model, or have not already announced their plans to implement their in-person or hybrid learning model prior to January 18, 2021 cannot move to in-person or hybrid before January 18, 2021.
We have been reviewing many factors regarding this guidance which includes, but are not limited to, number of staff available for in-person instruction, ability to implement additional mitigation, transportation, special programming considerations, PPE, and the continued sustainability of these factors. It is a complex equation and we will be seeking information from both our staff and families in order to plan around these factors. Elementary parents are still able to choose all Distance Learning for their child(ren) if so desired. Your school will begin contacting families via email to gather this information beginning next week, December 21.
We look forward to sharing more information with you as it becomes available. I appreciate your patience and support as we work through the safest return possible for our students.
Michael Muñoz, Superintendent
*The District’s COVID Advisory Team consists of experts from Olmsted County Public Health (OCPH) and Mayo Clinic and membership of the School Board, District Cabinet, District COVID Coordinators, and union leadership.