COVID-19 Learning Plans

Mora Public Schools is working hard on preparations for the 2020/2021 school year! We formed a large committee of many staff members from departments across the district to focus on fall preparation.

The goals of the committee are to:

*Develop a Mora Return to School Plan 2020/2021 that includes all required elements while at the same time incorporates what works best for our community and families.

* Utilize data from parent and staff surveys, information learned from spring 2020 distance learning, and reliable sources for guidance.

* Communicate the plan to the community in a way that makes sense to them and through various ways to reach everyone in the quickest way possible.

* Ensure staff is well informed and trained on all elements of the plan.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released initial guidance on June 18th requesting districts to plan 3 learning models for the upcoming school year. The 3 models are necessary because needs may change throughout the school year depending on the status of COVID-19 cases stabilizing, worsening, or getting better. Mora Public Schools may have to transition between plans at points during the school year as requested by the state due to COVID-19 status at the local, regional, or state levels.

How can families be included in the process of developing the Mora Return to School Plan 2020/2021?

A parent survey will be sent to families in late July. We highly encourage you to complete the survey. Results from the parent survey will be used to guide decisions in the development of the Mora Return to School Plan 2020/2021.

When will the state tell districts which model to use when initially returning to school and when will families be informed?

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will give districts their final recommendation on which learning model to use for back to school the week of July 27th.

Immediately after receiving state guidance, the district will develop and finalize local plans according to state requirements and what will best serve our community. Information will be communicated to families the week of August 10th.

What are the 3 learning models?

1. In-person Model: All students return to learning at school with space created for social distancing in classrooms and on buses.

* Schools will not have to be strictly held to 6 feet of social distancing between people within the classrooms while learning.

2. Hybrid Model: All students participate in a hybrid learning model of 50% face to face instruction at school and 50% distance learning instruction from home.

Here are additional elements that must be implemented during hybrid learning:
* Limit people at school and on buses to 50% maximum occupancy.
* Maintain 6 feet of social distancing between people at all times.
If 50% capacity in classrooms or on buses does not allow for 6 feet of distancing, then the number of people must be reduced in order to meet 6 feet of distancing.
* Plan for no contact meal and materials delivery for days when students are distance learning from home.
* Provide school-age childcare for critical workers.

Please Note: there are several options available to districts on scheduling for a Hybrid Learning Model. The parent survey being sent to families in late July will include questions about these scheduling options.

3. Distance Learning Model: All students receive remote instruction while at home.

Here are additional elements that must be planned for during distance learning:
* Ensure students receive what they need to participate in their learning, have access to necessary services/support, and interact daily with teacher(s).
* Plan for no contact meal and materials delivery.
* Provide school-age childcare for critical workers.

Each of the 3 learning models has required and recommended components:

* Required elements must be implemented and are foundational to minimizing risk of exposure to COVID-19. Districts must include required parts in their plans.

* Recommended practices are additional strategies to be used as appropriate to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Districts will have a choice of including recommended elements or not depending on the needs of their schools.

What are the requirements for the In-person and Hybrid learning models?

Here is an overview of MDE requirements from the June 18th guidance for both In-person and Hybrid learning models that districts must include in their return to school plans:

* Offer a distance learning option to enrolled students who are medically vulnerable or unwilling to return to in-person school.
* Restrict non-essential people from entering school buildings.
* Adjust breakfast and lunch service to ensure safety and distancing.
* Students go straight to classrooms, no gathering in common areas.
* Process for students and staff to self-identify as high risk due to health complications.
* Plans for alternative learning for students or work assignments for staff if medically vulnerable.
* Ensure adequate supplies are available for students to minimize sharing.
* Establish routines for cleaning/disinfecting, provide access to appropriate cleaning supplies, and ensure routines are in place for hand washing.
* Educate on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19; when to stay home and when someone can return to school after being sick; how to conduct health screenings; and how to access mental health resources.
* Establish how to care for anyone sick at school until they can go home.
* Provide signs, posters, and markings on floors/seating for social distancing and COVID-19 education.

As you can see, the requirements are best practices in keeping our students and staff safe and protected at school during face to face instruction next fall. Mora Public Schools is 100% confident that we will be able to modify our learning days to meet the requirements of the state while at the same time continuing to provide high quality, engaging, safe learning while at school.

What are some of the recommendations MDE is suggesting for the In-person or Hybrid Learning Models?

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) included several suggestions and recommendations in their June 18th initial guidance. Districts can decide based on what is best for their schools and community on how to include or adjust these recommendations in their return to school plans. We expect that in the state’s final guidance, to be released the week of July 27th, there may be further recommendations and requirements for districts.

Examples of some recommendations included in the June 18th MDE guidance are:
* Having small groups of students together with the same teacher(s) during the school day to limit mixing with others and minimize exposure to COVID-19.
* Classroom and scheduling adjustments such as separating furniture, using dividers, posting visual aides, limiting or eliminating gatherings in large common areas, staggering arrival/dismissal, and how students move through the school during the day.
* Meals delivered to classrooms or some variation to allow for social distancing.
* Discontinue activities for large groups such as limiting the amount of students that are on the playground at any one time.
* Wearing cloth face coverings or shields - districts will have options on the use of masks.
* Not using things that are hard to clean.
* Water and ventilation systems working properly along with guidance on use of water fountains.
* Safety recommendations about hygiene and ventilation on transportation.
* Social supports available at school for staff, students, families.

What happens if families choose to do distance learning instead of face to face instruction during in-person or hybrid learning due to medically vulnerable students or by choice for some reason?

Regardless of the implemented plan, some families may choose to continue to distance learn due to health related reasons or preference. Mora Public Schools will include a Distance Learning Family Flex Option so families have a choice. Here are some of the things you should know about the Flex Option:

* The Flex Option has to follow the same calendar and instructional hours as regular school.
* Attendance will be taken once per day with daily interaction by a licensed teacher.
* Curriculum will follow the same academic standards and pacing as in-person or hybrid learning.
* Support for special education and social emotional learning will be provided by the district.
* Distance Learning Family Flex Option students will participate in state assessments as required by MDE.
* The plan will include how families will be able to notify the district of intent to continue to distance learn during in-person or hybrid learning.
* Designated certified distance learning teachers will service these families while other teachers will be providing in-person or hybrid instruction.

Thank you for taking the time to review the above information available to districts from the June 18th MDE guidance. Mora Public Schools will make every effort to design a plan that fulfills state requirements while at the same time serves our community in the best way possible.

Please look for communication coming from the district the week of August 10th regarding the Mora Return to School Plan 2020/2021. In addition, we will update our website with relevant information in a timely manner as needed so families can stay up-to-date with developments. Thank you for your patience and continued support!

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