Shifting K-6 to distance learning

Update to Families - November 13, 2020

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Spring Lake Park Schools Families:


Since my update last Friday, there has been a rapid escalation in COVID-19 cases and impacts in our county, district and schools. As a result, we are announcing the plan to transition grades K-6 to SLP Extended Flexible Learning (distance learning) starting Monday, November 30.


Today, we met with our regional support team (Anoka County and Minnesota Departments of Health and Education) and following common guidance school districts are receiving from public health experts as COVID-19 spreads rapidly, they recommended K-6 transition to distance learning. Here are the key takeaways:

  • County data and trends: Yesterday, the COVID-19 case rate for Anoka County was reported at 75.9 cases per 10,000 residents. In just one week, we went from 48.7 to 75.9. This moves past the 50-case threshold defined in the state’s safe learning plan as the marker to move K-6 to distance learning. Next week, based on recent daily case counts, the team expects this number to be well over 100 cases per 10,000. There is wide, uncontrolled spread of the virus in Anoka County, and based on this alone the regional support team is directing a shift for K-6.
  • School district: Infection rates within our school district zip codes reflect the county situation as a whole with wide community spread within our district’s zip codes.
  • School data: Since last Friday, we have 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.


Several data points are captured on the district COVID-19 dashboard which was updated today.

Transition plan for grades K-6

We know any transition – especially for families of our younger learners – creates family impact and inconvenience. Students in grades K-6 currently attending in the Modified Campus (hybrid) model, will transition to distance learning over the next week and a half to provide families and staff time to prepare. We’ve vetted our transition plan with our regional support team and they endorse this timeline and approach. Please mark your calendars with these dates:

  • Next week – 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 – Thanksgiving break.
  • Nov. 30: School will resume for all K-6 students in the SLP Extended Flexible Learning model.
  • Child care options will continue to be available for current families and as we are able to accommodate requests. Families should visit our child care website for more information and to register.
  • For K-6, we plan to continue to offer some at-school learning opportunities for students. More information on these plans will be coming from your school next week.
  • For grades 7-12, distance learning will be continuing through at least winter break given the public health situation.


We need everyone's help to keep our K-6 schools open through Friday, November 20. We very much hope to stay in our current learning models through next week. The reality is that we may have to adjust schedules for some schools or classrooms as we manage staff absences. If we are not able to hold in-person learning for a school or classroom, the school will communicate with families immediately. Please support this transition plan by staying home when sick, getting tested for COVID-19 when symptomatic and avoiding activities outside of school where the spread of the virus is more likely to occur.

Getting back to learning at school

As much as we would like to, we cannot set a date to return to a Modified Campus (hybrid) model of learning. Families should expect to remain in distance learning through winter break and until case numbers decrease to a safer level and we receive clearance from the regional support team to safely transition back. We emphasized in our meeting with the regional support team and in conversations I’ve had with the Commissioner of Education that we all need clarity on the criteria for safely reopening.


This is a tough time as we navigate this virus. I have heard from parents who want kids in school no matter what, others who are struggling with what to do next. Likewise, I’ve heard from teachers who want to stay in our current model and those who are rightfully concerned with the growing case numbers we are seeing in our county and state.


These are a complex set of interests to navigate, each of which have legitimate concerns at their core. Yet, through all of this my priority is balancing the safety of our students AND staff with our desire to provide an enriching learning environment for our students. 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.


We truly appreciate your continued patience, understanding and support during these challenging times. We ask that you continue to support community-wide actions that help reduce the spread of this virus and get us all back to learning at school.


Sincerely,

Jeff Ronneberg, Ed.D.

Superintendent

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