As we near the halfway point of our summer break, we wanted to provide a couple updates from our fall planning team. We continue to prepare for three scenarios for the 2020-21 school year: 1) return all students to school buildings following health guidelines, 2) a continuation of distance learning, or 3) a hybrid of in-building and distance learning. We are also preparing to be able to pivot between these three scenarios as needed. The state will announce on or before the week of July 27 which learning model schools must open with this fall. We will follow the state’s guidance and will keep the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff at the forefront of all planning.
Family Survey Results
On July 14, the Lakeville Area Schools Board of Education reviewed results of the most recent family survey, which was offered to parents in late-June. The survey results show there is strong support from families for in-person learning models. Highlights include:
- 58 percent of families responded they would prefer their students to be in-person full time this fall.
- 20 percent of families would like a hybrid option. Parents who prefer in-person and hybrid learning models believe their students will learn better if they can see their teacher in-person.
- 10 percent of parents responded that they are concerned about coming back to a face-to-face model. Parents who prefer a Distance Learning model primarily are concerned for health and safety reasons.
- 11 percent of parents who responded indicated they are either unsure of the three scenarios defined by the state or prefer a different option.
This is the third time the district has collected feedback from parents since the pandemic began in a consistent effort to engage families in the fall planning process and to improve distance learning. The district fall planning team is also currently reviewing an Education Minnesota Lakeville staff survey to incorporate ideas and concerns shared by educators within each of these plans.
Designated Devices for Students and Educators
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a magnifying glass to the opportunity gaps within our system. One of the significant opportunity gaps Lakeville Area students experience, which was exacerbated during distance learning, is related to technology. Across the district, our students do not have equal access to technology. Approximately one quarter of our student population needed to borrow a district device to complete their distance learning. There is a disparity in type, quality and capability of the devices students have access to, both in their classrooms and at home. Fortunately, thanks to our community, which passed referendums in 2015 and 2019, our district is financially and strategically well-positioned to close this technology gap.
On July 14, the Lakeville Area Schools Board of Education approved an educational technology plan to better prepare the district for the three scenarios listed above. This fall, the district will be providing designated technology devices to all PreK-12 students and teachers.
- All PreK-2 students will have access to an Apple iPad with a durable case.
- All Grade 3-12 students will have access to an Apple iPad with a durable keyboard case.
- Classrooms will receive phased-in technology upgrades like Apple TVs and projectors to better support a flexible learning environment.
Ensuring each student has a designated device and hotspot, if needed, will benefit our students in both the short and long term.
- In the event of distance learning or a hybrid model, K-12 students will be able to take home a device to facilitate their learning. PreK students will take home devices only when necessary to meet program and student needs.
- In the event of students being back in the classrooms, we will be able to meet the CDC recommendations for returning to school buildings, which indicate that electronic devices should not be shared, while students who chose to do Distance Learning will have a device to facilitate their learning at home.
- All students will have equal access to the same technology, regardless of which school they attend.
- Uniform devices district-wide will provide a continuous learning experience as students transition from grade to grade.
For detailed information about the family survey and/or the educational technology plan, view the presentation slides or watch the recording from the July 14 School Board Meeting. You will be receiving additional information as we get closer to the start of the school year.
This is just one step toward closing the opportunity gap and meeting the needs of all students. There is much work ahead in both planning for the fall and ensuring that every student has equitable opportunities for success in our schools.