On Thursday, July 30, Governor Tim Walz announced the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan. This is a localized, data-driven plan that prioritizes the safety of students and staff and in-person learning, especially for younger learners and those in most need. The long-term goal of this plan is to get all of our students back into classrooms full time, but for the safety of our community we will need to start cautiously with a plan that provides stability to families, even as COVID-19 data fluctuates, as we build towards a full reopening of our schools.
The Minnesota Department of Health has laid out guidelines for how to start the 2020-21 school year based on COVID-19 cases in our local community. We are going to continue to monitor infection rates and need to be ready to change plans accordingly. Our goal for the health and well-being of our students and their families, as well as our staff, is to provide the most predictable, safe and high quality education possible.
There are still many factors and additional steps that we must consider and take before we can make our final decision aligned with the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan. Over the next two weeks, the district’s Fall Planning Committee will review the feedback from the Family Hybrid Model Survey, consult with union leaders and staff members and further assess our operations. We care about your children’s physical health, mental health, and their education. These factors will remain at the forefront of our planning.
In the case of in-person or hybrid learning, all families will be able to choose full-time distance learning through LinK12 Lakeville, our comprehensive, state certified online school. If you are considering distance learning through LinK12 Lakeville, more details and enrollment information will be shared next week. In the case of distance or hybrid learning, childcare will be available for children of Tier 1 essential workers at a minimum. More details regarding childcare will be coming soon. Regardless of the model, students in specialized programs like Special Education will have access to the supports they need and meals will be provided to all students. The Governor’s Safe Learning Plan addressed K-12 students. We await additional details regarding our PreK programs and co-curricular activities.
The state of Minnesota has prioritized the health and safety of our students and staff, and has provided extensive guidance on how districts can track and prevent the spread of COVID-19, regardless of the learning model. Additionally, they will ensure every student and educator receives one cloth face mask and will provide the district with three disposable masks per student in addition to the personal protective equipment we already have. The state is also ensuring educators receive face shields so students can see their teachers’ faces during instruction. Wearing these face coverings is one of the simple things we can all do as a community to fight COVID-19. The virus isn’t going away anytime soon, but together we must all do our part to keep it from spreading throughout our schools and the Lakeville Area community.
We will be taking all of these steps before presenting you a back-to-school detailed plan on or before Friday, August 14. Our Fall Planning Committee understands, as parents and educators, how difficult the unknowns are for everyone. Please know that this time is necessary to be sure we are providing the most safe and high quality education that your child deserves. This fall we will experience a first day of school unlike any other. Our children are looking at the adults in their lives to model perseverance and not lose sight of hope in the face of adversity. We ask that you work alongside us to make this school year a positive one for all our students.
We are in this together.
Michael Baumann, Superintendent