By Amanda McKnight
A 7-page memo from the office of Superintendent Mike Redmond indicates Shakopee Public Schools are most likely to start school in the fall under a “hybrid learning model.”
Under the hybrid model, the student body would be split into two equal halves, with A-day students attending in-person classes one day, and B-day students the next day. All children from the same family would be assigned to the same day, and students would participate in distance learning on their home days.
“At the current time, we are planning as if we will be implementing and starting the school year in Hybrid learning,” the memo states. “There is certainly a chance this may be incorrect thinking and we may not start the school year in this manner.”
The hybrid learning plan for Shakopee has been created by a Learning Leadership Team that was formed in June and has met six times to date. The team includes teachers, principals, and district administrators.
To read the memo and preliminary plans in full, scroll through it below or click here to download a copy. Redmond will be providing the Shakopee School Board an update on the pandemic planning, based on the memo, at Monday night’s board meeting.Pandemic_Planning_Update_July_20__2020
According to the guidelines set out to date by the Minnesota Department of Health, schools will be required to provide a distance learning option to students who may be medically vulnerable or “otherwise unwilling to return to in-person or hybrid learning.” (See Page 8 in this document).
The timeline provided in the school district’s memo is as follows:
- By July 27: Guidance will come from Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education for the format(s) that public schools will be allowed to use at the start of the school year.
- July 29: Shakopee schools will incorporate guidance from the governor and MDE and communicate the plan for the start of the school year to staff and community.
- July 29-August 7: Determine individual plans of each student (i.e. If schools are hybrid or in-person, giving students the opportunity to opt into distance learning).
- August 10-14: Develop plan for accommodating student choices made between July 29-August 7.
- August 17: Communicate “final” plan to staff and community and begin “final” preparations to begin the school year.
According to the memo, the school district has already taken additional precautions in terms of air flow, disinfecting machines, and plexiglass dividers, and it plans to take more precautions in terms of policies when students return.
Precautions already in the works:
- The frequency and amount of fresh air being exchanged by the HVAC system has increased. The district has doubled the quantity of fresh air being brought into buildings and is exploring how to increase the capacity further.
- A Victory Electrostatic disinfectant sprayer and pump has been purchased for each building. This machine uses technology to enhance full coverage of surfaces with disinfectant.
- The district has purchased portable hand sanitizer stands that can be moved around where needed.
- Plexiglass dividers are being installed in areas typically seeing high quantities of interpersonal interaction, such as main offices and reception spaces.
- Information and directional signage used to support health safety protocols (i.e. keep six feet of spacing) are being installed throughout school buildings. For example, hallways will have floor stickers dividing them like highways with each side of the hallway marked for travel in opposite directions.
Precautions and policies for the school year:
- Every class space will be equipped with disinfectant, paper towels, and gloves for the duration of the pandemic response.
- Custodial staff will be notified immediately of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases so the space can be disinfected per the standards of the Minnesota Department of Health.
- High-touch surfaces will be cleaned more often and multiple times per day.
- The district will also monitor CDC guidance and must meet requirements laid out by Minnesota Dept. of Health for opening schools.
The school district’s memo did not include any language relating to the use of face coverings; however, the MDH guidelines “strongly recommend” the use of face masks and/or face shields by staff and students. MDH also strongly recommends schools have a supply of cloth face coverings or face shields available for staff and students who forget to bring their own.
In addition to the general precautions and policies being implemented, Shakopee’s two middle schools will move to a four-period block schedule for the school year. According to the memo, this decision is based on reducing the amount of people both students and teachers are exposed to in one day, and it would allow for more effective management of workload when students are schooling from home on distance learning days.
As with anything in the midst of a pandemic, the memo states all this is subject to change, and Shakopee could see a little bit of all three learning scenarios through the course of the school year.
“There are still a significant number of key variables that are best described as unknown at this time that make planning a tremendous challenge,” the memo states. “Due to this, there will be questions that currently don’t have an answer, or have answers that lead to additional questions. So, please bear with us as we continue to navigate a complex situation without