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District decisions: Bloomington Public Schools to use distance learning model

School districts across the metro are announcing their plans for the fall.

MINNEAPOLIS — Ever since Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced school districts and charter schools will get to choose what type of instruction they want to implement this fall, districts have been announcing their plans one by one.

School districts and charter schools will pick from one of three different models: in-person, distance learning or a hybrid model.

Bloomington Public Schools

Bloomington Public Schools announced on Aug. 17 that they will be switching from hybrid learning to distance learning for the fall, citing safety concerns. 

The first week of school will be used to make sure the students can be connected digitally and on building relationships between staff and students while  doing remote learning.

Eastern Carver County Schools

Eastern Carver County Schools, or District 112, announced on Aug. 11 that they will start the school year with a "modified hybrid model."

That means different things for different age groups:

  • Grades K-5 will return in person four days a week, with Wednesdays as a distance learning day for students and a PLC (Professional Learning Community) day for staff.
  • Grades 6-8 will return in person two days a week, and use distance learning three days a week. Group assignments for in-person days will be communicated to parents the week of Aug. 25. Wednesdays will be a PLC day for staff.
  • Grades 9-12 will use a "Distance Learning 2.0" model that gives opportunities for in-person learning to students who need more support.

Eastern Carver County Schools have provided more information online. Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams said in an email to families that the district will be "ready to pivot" at any time based on evolving conditions and public health guidance.

Minneapolis Public Schools

Just as the governor's news conference was wrapping up on July 30, Minneapolis Public Schools leaders announced they will start the school year with distance learning. 

"Students will not report to classrooms, but instead will receive instruction from their teachers through computers or other online devices. I know this will be challenging for many, but based on feedback from our families and staff, and the status of COVID-19 in Hennepin County, distance learning is the safest option for the MPS community, said Superintendent Ed Graff in a message to staff, families and students.

Graff said on Aug. 4, MPS staff will provide a more detailed overview of their distance learning plan to the Board of Education beginning at 6 p.m.

Minneapolis plans to start the school year Sept. 8 for grades 1-12, and Sept. 10 for Pre-K and Kindergarten.

MPS also created a video of Supt. Graff providing more details of the upcoming school year using remote instruction.

"The good news is we have been working hard all summer to improve distance learning. Not only will it be stronger academically, students and staff alike will benefit from more structure, better planning, regular interactions and a greater sense of connection among students," added Supt. Graff.

St. Paul Public Schools

Also the day of the governor's announcement, July 30, St. Paul Public Schools officials said they will also recommend to start the school year with distance learning.

"The leading recommendation is that SPPS will plan to start the school year in distance learning for all students," according to an updated message on their website.

School leaders will provide details of the plan during next week's Committee of the Board meeting.

"We will continue to review all the facets of MDE’s guidance, and will provide additional details about our reopening plans with families and staff next week," according to the website.

Officials also added that "SPPS will look at returning to a hybrid or in-person learning scenario later this fall."

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter voiced his support for SPPS' decision in a statement Thursday evening. "As communities across our state grapple with how to educate their children this fall, the health of our Saint Paul children, families, teachers, and school workers remains our top priority amid the ongoing uncertainty of this pandemic. I fully support our Saint Paul Public Schools starting this school year with distance learning."

Anoka-Hennepin School District 11

On July 31, the Anoka-Hennepin School District announced it would adopt a hybrid model to start the 2020-21 school year, with students attending class in-person two days per week, and online for the other three days. The decision came about 24 hours after district officials originally said they would need "more time" to evaluate the various scenarios.

RELATED: Anoka-Hennepin announces hybrid learning to start 2020-21 school year

District 196

District 196, otherwise referred to as Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools, announced their intention to start the 2020-21 school year with a hybrid learning model. 

The district says, "As much as we wanted to return to full-time in-person learning, we continue to rely on public health data and directives from the state to prioritize a safe learning environment for students, teachers, staff and families." 

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools also plans to roll out a digital learning option called 196 Digital Academy for families that wish to avoid in-person learning.

Shakopee Public Schools

Shakopee Public Schools aims to keep an eye on the data, offering two options for learning. One, dubbed "Shakopee School-IHD," which can change in relation to pandemic conditions, and "Shakopee Online." The latter is an attempt to offer families the ability to skip in-person learning altogether should they feel it is within their best interest from a health and safety standpoint.

Minnetonka Public Schools

Over in Minnetonka, their public school system is electing to start the fall semester with a hybrid model. They issued the following statement: 

"Minnetonka Schools selected its back to school plan of a hybrid model based on the planning work and input of more than 600 parents, teachers and administrators. The plan reflects the state’s viewpoint that the youngest learners need to be in school as much as possible, and it also reflects that secondary level students are more self-sufficient with e-learning. Additionally, with K-5 students in school nearly all the time, this is a significantly reduced burden on working families. We understand some concerns have been raised about the Superintendent’s remarks during the presentation of our District’s plan. The opinions expressed about COVID-19 were his alone and were not used to determine which plan the District selected."

Robbinsdale Area Schools

Robbinsdale Area Schools announced they will be using Distance Learning PLUS this fall. PLUS stands for Personal Learning with Unified Supports.

"Students will engage in classes and conduct learning remotely. Learning includes direct teacher instruction and independent student work, with a combination of virtual meetings, interactive class sessions and pre-recorded videos," a press release from the district reads. 

Childcare will be available to Tier 1 workers of K-5 students for free.

For more information visit their website.

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