Throughout the summer, the faculty and staff at Staples-Motley School District have been hard at work preparing for the new school year as we adapt to COVID-19. This past week the Governor announced that local districts may decide their reopening plan based on some specific, county-level data and consultation with local health officials. With those details in hand, we shared with families and staff that based on the current data, we will be reopening with in-person learning available for all this September. A refined distance learning model is available to families who request it.
We didn’t come to this decision lightly. In fact, over the past two months, as mandated by the Minnesota Department of Education, we have spent many days planning for reopening in one of three models: a return to in-school learning, distance learning from home, and hybrid learning, where we adjust student schedules to reduce in-person attendance to 50% maximum occupancy of our buildings.
As part of our planning, we assessed our facilities, our curriculum and our protocols, so that we can meet the needs of each student. This encompasses a wide range of matters, including physical distancing procedures, proper sanitation, transportation, how meals will be served, as well as student, parent and staff feedback from spring surveys.
With each of the three plans developed, we watched last week as the Minnesota Departments of Health and Education unveiled Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan. This plan provided local districts the opportunity to consult with local health officials and decide the best reopening model for their individual district.
Part of the Safe Learning Plan guidance included a table of rates of community spread at which districts should consider moving between learning models. This data supports a full return to in-person learning. We know families are preparing for the coming school year, so we communicated our plans in a timely manner, notifying family and staff last week.
No matter how daunting the challenges, we are determined to make sure that this public health crisis doesn’t interfere with the safety and education of our students. This commitment reflects our ongoing mission to serve, which has guided our continuous improvement plan that debuted last year.
At the heart of this initiative, community members, business owners, parents, district staff and students are collaborating to shape a better future for Staples- Motley ISD. We resolve to provide the support and services our children need to grow and thrive through an ambitious curriculum, arts, athletics and community spirit.
As always, we will remain focused on our core Cardinal Commitments:
- Student experience – diverse opportunities and support for success,
- Climate and culture – optimal teaching and learning environment,
- Value – guided management of district assets,
- Operations – service, collaboration and facilities maintenance,
Looking ahead, our planning for the school year is not complete. Even with the governor’s guidance, we still have work to do to ensure the district will be in a strong position on Sept. 8th, the first day of classes. During this time, we will continue to have discussions with local health officials and monitor COVID-19 spread in our communities. If there is evidence of significant increase of community spread before or during the school year, we may have to transition to the hybrid or distance learning models.
My commitment to you is that we will make these decisions locally. In the event we must shift to hybrid or distance learning, these decisions will be based on the local data and in consultation with our local health officials, so that our students can have the best educational experience in a learning model that prioritizes their safety.
I recognize that, despite our best efforts, not everyone will be happy with every aspect of our reopening plans. I promise that we will do all we can to keep you informed, listen to your concerns, remain open to your ideas and answer all of your questions. We are humbled by your trust in our work and are grateful for your encouragement and support. By working together, we will get through this, and our children will have a safe and successful year of learning.