School districts planning for upcoming year after Gov. Walz's announcement

Brandi Powell
Updated: July 31, 2020 06:34 PM
Created: July 31, 2020 04:07 PM

It's crunch time for districts across the state. They are now working on their plans for the start of the upcoming school year after Gov. Tim Walz offered guidance for learning Thursday that essentially leaves the decision-making up to individual school districts.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked some superintendents what they thought about Walz's announcement on Thursday.

Walz to leave decision on upcoming school year to school districts, with guidance from state officials

"I think it makes sense because the COVID outbreak across the state varies so widely. A one-size-fits-all solution for the state probably didn't make sense," said Anoka-Hennepin School District Superintendent David Law.

Mike Redmond, Shakopee Public Schools superintendent, said: "We might be the outliers, because I've heard some of my peers say, 'Wow, we were really shocked at the decision.' We actually thought there was a high probability that they would try to do something for different regions."

Some districts have already announced how they'll move forward. Rosemount - Apple Valley - Eagan announced it's doing a hybrid model. Forest Lake said it'll have in-person elementary and hybrid secondary. Robbinsdale, Osseo and Shakopee are looking for parent input in the coming days. Then, they'll match that with teacher and staff abilities and preferences.

"We are going to address, really, what I would say are three months of pretty stringent diligent work that take a lot of effort normally, and we're going to do that in a week," Redmond explained.

Redmond said they're working with administrators and teachers on the next steps but they need families' input.

"For each of our students, they pick from what we're calling 'Shakopee IHD' with the 'I' being in-person, the 'H' being hybrid, and 'D' being distance. The other choice for each student is to select an entirely online experience for the year that we're calling 'Shakopee online,'" said Redmond.

Shakopee needs parents to decide by Aug. 5.

"It drives the rest of planning," Redmond added.

Minnesota education commissioner lays out back-to-school options

Osseo needs similar information by Aug. 9. Robbinsdale will hold virtual feedback meetings next week.

Superintendents are admitting there's a lot to juggle.

"Yesterday, I think I was at work when the sun came and up, and I think I left as the sun was setting," Redmond said.

Law said he anticipates a K-12 hybrid model but admitted there's still a lot to figure out. Anoka-Hennepin announced a hybrid model to start the year Friday evening.

"Bringing kids in the building, social distance, training kids how to social distance at passing time," Law said.

They're figuring out dismissal time, lunches, class size and location, including for English language learners, special education and choir and band programs.

"Really, it's a class-by-class analysis. How many kids are in here all day ... and every building is having to run through a full schedule that way," Law said.

It's all to make the hybrid models work safely.

Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools have announced they'll be all virtual.

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