In-person learning starts Monday for some of St. Paul’s youngest students

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Monday, St. Paul’s youngest students will be heading back to the classroom for this first time this school year.

All early-childhood and pre-K through second-grade students will be starting in-person learning.

There’s a list of safety protocols in place and students will notice them as soon as they walk into their school buildings Monday morning.

Kirke Rogers dropped off his daughter at school Monday .

"Still a lot of unknowns, but I’m optimistic and hopeful things will be safe," Rogers said.

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Students in St. Paul haven’t been in the classroom since March 5 of last year. Since then, St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard says staff have worked on plans to re-open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday, more than 5,000 students will be back in school. Gothard says this comes at a time when the district’s youngest children are facing social and emotional learning needs that distance learning can’t provide.

As far as protocols go, when in class, the district will provide personal protective equipment for all younger students, teachers and staff. Everyone will be required to wear a mask. The district is also recommending three feet of social distancing between students and six feet from educators. Classrooms also have enhanced ventilation and will be sanitized.

However, as schools re-open Monday, educators have voiced their concerns.

The St. Paul Federation of Educators said they would like to see the re-opening of schools delayed until all of the district’s staff can be vaccinated. According to the teachers’ union, 93 percent of its members currently have no confidence in the district’s plan.

The district is bringing back students in waves. By the middle of February, more than 10,000 students will be back in the classroom.

The superintendent says grades six through 12 will continue to distance learn until more guidelines are released.

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