Superintendent: Elementary students could go to 5-day in-person learning in coming weeks

Shakopee students in grades kindergarten through second grade could be attending in-person school five days a week as soon as Jan. 25 if the Shakopee School Board agrees to the most recent recommendations from the Pandemic Response Advisory Team.

Superintendent Mike Redmond announced the preliminary recommendations on Friday as a result of covid-19 guideline updates from the Minnesota Department of Education. He clarified the recommendations are preliminary “to allow the Pandemic Response Advisory Team to continue to monitor the situation and consider possible updates to the recommendation between now and January 4,” when the school board will meet.

Until now, the MDE guidelines regulated the learning model (full-time in-person, hybrid, or distance) based on the two-week average of confirmed covid-19 cases per 10,000 residents of each county.

According to Redmond’s email update, third through fifth grade students in the district’s IHD program will remain in distance learning until at least Feb. 8, but would transition to 5-day in-person learning after that. The “rolling start” to in-person learning is a recommendation from the state’s updated guidelines.

MDE’s guidelines for secondary schools, which include Shakopee’s sixth through 12th graders, will remain the same, with distance learning recommended if case rates are averaging over 30 cases per 10,000 Scott County residents. Redmond said he anticipates students in grades 6-12 will be in distance learning through January.

“The new rules incorporate research and guidance from medical experts that assign much less risk from covid-19 to elementary students, especially when quality mitigation and health safety practices are universally employed within elementary schools,” Redmond said in his email update.

He added that new health and safety protocols will be implemented as elementary schools return to full-time in-person learning.

“In buildings where students are on site, as outlined in the updated (MDE) Safe Learning Plan, staff will simultaneously wear both a face mask and a face shield,” he said. “All staff in these buildings will also have access to free COVID-19 testing on site, offered once every two weeks.”

Students will also be required to wear masks.

If the school board approves the recommendations for in-person learning five days a week, there will be no school for elementary students on Jan. 21 and 22 to allow staff time to transition plan. The school board will meet on Monday, Jan. 4 to discuss the recommendations.

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