Spring Lake Park Schools students in grades 7-12 will transition to distance learning (SLP Extended Flexible Learning) as COVID-19 case rates in Anoka County continue to rise. The decision was made Friday, October 23 based on the latest public health information and direction from state and county officials.
The model will include bringing students into school for necessary in-person instruction such as labs, hands-on learning, targeted help and other services. Activities and athletics will also continue should students and families choose to participate.
Public health situation and direction
In the October 22, 2020 report from Minnesota Department of Health, Anoka County cases exceeded 30 cases per 10,000 residents for the first time at 33.16. The data in this report is two weeks old. Daily Anoka County case rates over the last two weeks show continued elevated numbers with no decreases in sight. At 30 cases, the Minnesota Safe Learning Plan calls for secondary students to transition to distance learning.
School district leaders met October 22 with officials from Anoka County public health, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Education and other school districts in the county. Officials shared the latest public health information for the county.
Unlike other counties with identifiable outbreaks at specific businesses or locations, Anoka County is currently experiencing wide community spread, the third fastest growing spread in the state at this time. Because of this, the recommended direction provided to Anoka County school districts was to move to distance learning for grades 7-12.
“We continue to have very few cases within our schools and had hoped to remain in our current model,” says Jeff Ronneberg, superintendent. “However, after meeting about the public health situation, we feel compelled to follow the direction provided and align with the state’s safe learning plan to move grades 7 through 12 to distance learning.”
Each of the neighboring districts in Anoka County are following a similar plan and implementing distance learning for grades 7-12 and maintaining hybrid learning models in elementary grades.
Transition plan for grades 7-12
Students in grades 7-12 currently attending school in the Modified Campus (hybrid) model, are transitioning to distance learning by Nov. 5:
- Through Friday, Oct. 30 – Students are following their current hybrid schedules and coming to school on their scheduled Group A and Group B days. This provides additional days at school and an opportunity to take home anything they need before distance learning begins.
- Monday, Nov. 2 – Wednesday, Nov. 4 – Learning will look a little different for students transitioning and for students already in the Extended Flexible Learning (distance) model. Monday through Wednesday, teachers in both learning models will be focused on the transition. While teachers are not expected to provide learning activities for students on these days, a number of teachers will be planning to continue momentum on current units and providing activities.
- Thursday, Nov. 5 – Students in grades 7-12 will be fully transitioned to the Extended Flexible Learning (distance) model.
Schools will communicate additional details over the next weeks through the Westwood newsletter and the Spring Lake Park High School newsletter.
What to expect
Over the summer and this fall, teachers and staff have worked hard to continue to improve the Extended Flexible Learning experience taking all of the feedback into consideration. Learning this fall has gone well. Among other changes, students will have daily interaction with teachers.
Additional details on the learning models are available in a brief 1-page overview of the model.
What continues in person, at school
Based on the state’s learning plan, schools also will offer in-person opportunities for those services that cannot be offered meaningfully through distance learning. Starting Monday, Nov. 9, students will be invited to school, with transportation provided, for specific reasons. Students will be invited to school for:
- Additional support for learners who may need it, which may include students receiving special education services, English learners and students who have identified interventions to support their learning needs. Families of students who meet these criteria will be contacted with what the plan is for your student’s support by Nov. 6.
- Learning experiences that can’t be provided at a distance, including some labs, music, art, assessments, and others. Students and families should check weekly overviews from their teacher(s) each Friday. Overviews will include when/if a student has an invitation for an in-person component in their next week’s schedule.
- Access to additional support outside of the curriculum, including the continuation of mental health services and counseling for students receiving this support as well as providing learning space and access for students whose home environment presents challenges to learning.
“Unlike the spring, when our buildings were shut down,” says Jeff. “We are really glad we can continue to bring students into school for specific, essential experiences we can’t offer from a distance.”
The district also plans to continue with athletics and activities. Students and families may choose to participate in athletics and activities as they feel comfortable. Athletics will follow Minnesota State High School League health and safety guidelines. Activities like the school play will continue as well.
Monitoring for additional transitions
Students in grades 7-12 will remain in a distance learning model until the end of the trimester (Dec. 4) to provide continuity.
“We will continue to monitor case rates closely and communicate a plan for the start of the second trimester no later than the week of November 30,” says Jeff. “It would be our hope that these numbers turn around, and we can consider a shift back to the Modified Campus (hybrid) model for grades 7-12 in time for a trimester transition.”
At this time, there are no changes for families of students in grades K-6 attending in Modified Campus (hybrid) model. The guidance continues to direct younger students to remain in school. While district leaders hope it is not needed, they would consider a transition for K-6 if the number were to near the threshold of 50 cases per 10,000.
“These are certainly not the decision points any of us want,” says Jeff. “We remain hopeful we can address the spread of this virus as a community and get back to learning at school together. In the meantime, we will work to provide a positive experience in whatever format, and we are grateful for community support, patience and partnership.”