Spring Lake Park Schools students in grades K-6 will transition to distance learning (SLP Extended Flexible Learning) starting Monday, November 30. The decision is the result of escalating COVID-19 case rates in Anoka County that are impacting the community and our schools.
Students in grades 7-12 transitioned to distance learning November 5. While some at-school learning opportunities continued, these will pause, including center-based special education, for at least one week as school resumes November 30 after the break. This time is needed to assess what can safely continue forward given rising COVID-19 case rates and impacts to staffing in our schools.
Public health situation and direction
School district leaders met with the regional support team, including Anoka County public health, Minnesota Departments of Health and Education, on November 13. Following guidance school districts are receiving from public health experts across the metro and given the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the community, they recommended K-6 transition to distance learning.
In the November 12 report from Minnesota Department of Health, the COVID-19 case rate for Anoka County was reported at 75.9 cases per 10,000 residents. This moves past the 50-case threshold defined in the state’s safe learning plan as the guideline for moving K-6 to distance learning.
Based on recent daily case counts, the regional support team expecting the case rate in next week’s report to be well over 100 cases per 10,000. They emphasized there is wide, uncontrolled spread of the virus in Anoka County, and based on this alone, directed a shift for K-6.
In addition since last Friday, the school district has more than tripled the number of students and staff out due to COVID-related issues (positive cases, quarantine due to close contact, pending test results, etc.).
“Our ability to provide appropriate staffing necessary to teach and supervise students is becoming more and more challenging,” says Jeff Ronneberg, Ed.D., superintendent.
Several data points are captured on the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Transition plan for grades K-6
Students in grades K-6 currently attending in the Modified Campus (hybrid) model, will transition to distance learning over a week and a half to provide families and staff time to prepare:
- Nov. 16-20: Students will follow their current schedules.
- Nov. 23-25: No school for students in K-6 (including those already in the Extended Flexible Learning model) as all K-6 teachers work to get everything transitioned to the Extended Flexible Learning model.
- Nov. 26-27: No school for all students K-12 – previously scheduled break.
- Nov. 30: School will resume for all students in the SLP Extended Flexible Learning model.
Schools will communicate plans for some at-school learning opportunities through their building newsletters in the coming weeks.
“We know any transition – especially for families of our younger learners – creates family impact and inconvenience,” says Jeff. “We’ve vetted our transition plan with our regional support team and they endorsed this timeline and approach.”
District child care options will continue to be available for families that are currently registered and as the team is able to accommodate requests. Information is available on the child care website.
Getting back to learning at school
The district now expects grades K-12 to remain in distance learning through winter break and until case numbers decrease to a safer level. The regional support team will continue to meet and provide guidance.
“As much as we would like to, we cannot set a date to return to a Modified Campus (hybrid) model of learning,” says Jeff. “We emphasized in our meeting with our regional support team and in conversations with the Commissioner of Education that we all need clarity on the criteria for safely reopening.”
Balancing the safety of our students and staff while providing an enriching learning environment for our students, continues to be the focus of everyone at Spring Lake Park Schools.
“While we all prefer having our students in person, we will do whatever we can to create an enriching learning environment no matter the learning model and we truly appreciate everyone’s continued patience, understanding and support during these challenging times,” says Jeff. “In addition, we ask that everyone in our community support actions that help reduce the spread of this virus and get us all back to learning at school.”