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Updated Message from the Superintendent Regarding Westwood Elementary

Dear Zimmerman Staff, Parents and Community Members:

This communication is meant to provide you with information about:

  1. Governor Tim Walz’s announcement (12/16/20)
  2. Grades 3-5 from Westwood Elementary returning to school on January 19, 2021.
  3. Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year.

The Governor announced yesterday that he recognizes the importance of having students, especially our earliest learners and those who are elementary-aged, back in schools, and will thus begin to allow school districts to bring students back in a phased approach beginning January 18, 2021.

Per his guidance, school buildings have the opportunity to bring back up to three (3) grade bands of students in the elementary school when beginning to phase back into a face-to-face model.

Because Westwood Elementary only serves three grade levels, we will be able to bring back our students in Grades 3-5 in an every day, face-to-face model beginning January 19, 2021. In other words, all Westwood Elementary students not in 100% Distance Learning will begin school in-person on January 19, 2021.

The following safety procedures will still be in place:

  • All staff who are teaching in-person, whether as part of an in-person or hybrid learning model, must wear both a face covering and face shield when interacting with students.
  • Staff will be provided an opportunity to take a COVID-19 test every other week, which will be facilitated by a Minnesota Service Cooperative.
  • Staff who may have been exposed to a person who tests positive for COVID-19 will not need to quarantine if they are not experiencing symptoms.
  • Social distancing requirements (i.e. 6 feet) will no longer apply to early childhood and elementary-aged students.
  • Early childhood and elementary staff must be provided at least two planning days before transitioning back to the new instructional model (Executive Order 20-82).
  • For early learning and elementary schools only: All student meal times and specialist lessons must be held in the classroom or outside (weather permitting). Physical education classes may continue to be held indoors, outside of individual classrooms, so long as students and staff are wearing face coverings.

Early Childhood - Grade 5
Important Early Childhood and Elementary School Dates Related to Model Changes

  • January 4, 2021: Distance Learning resumes after Winter Break.

  • January 14 and 15, 2021: Planning Days for All Early Childhood and Elementary Staff, No School for ALL Early Childhood and Elementary Students.

  • January 19, 2021: All students in grades E-5 will return to school for Zimmerman and Westwood Elementary.

Grades 6 - 12
Students in Grades 6 - 12 will remain in their current distance learning instructional model for now. Future instructional model decisions will be based on the state’s Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year. District officials are working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and local public health officials to consider all options. Information will be communicated as it becomes available.

Additional information for students receiving special education services will be forthcoming.

The Minnesota State High School League has issued a press release relating to the return of High School Winter Sports, which can be found HERE.

Elementary Distance Learning Family Model Change Form
Families with elementary-aged students currently participating in the ISD 728 Distance Learning program through March 5, 2021who are interested in having their child return to in-person learning on the dates provided below, must complete the Distance Learning Family Model Change Form by December 27, 2020. This form will be emailed to families with elementary-aged students who chose 100% Distance Learning through March 5, 2021.

Please note, the face-to-face model will remain in place for early childhood and elementary-aged children as long as the District is able to do so and based on things such as, but not limited to available staffing, number of individuals testing positive for COVID-19, etc.

Childcare Services Through February, and EdVenture Club Before and After School Care
Approved families participating in the Hybrid/ Distance Learning Child Care program will continue to receive services until their grade level returns to an in-person learning model. Families interested to schedule before and after school care will have the option to schedule their students on the weeks they return to in-person learning. Scheduling for before and after school care will be available on January 4, 2021. Families that have participated with EdVenture Club programs in the 2020-2021 school year will receive an email communication on details for scheduling care in January and February.

Important Upcoming Dates and Information

  • December 24 - January 1: Winter Break, No school for all students.

  • December 27, 2020: Elementary Distance Learning Model Change Form due from families with elementary-aged students who chose the 100% Distance Learning through March 5, 2021.

  • January 4, 2021: Distance Learning resumes after Winter Break.

  • January 14 and 15, 2021: Planning Days for Early Childhood and Elementary Staff, No school for Early Childhood and Elementary Students.

  • January 18, 2021: Martin Luther King Jr. Day; No school for all students.

  • January 19, 2021: Zimmerman and Westwood Elementary students return to school.

  • February 19 - 26, 2021: Families will have the choice to opt in or continue the 100% Distance Learning Option for the remainder of the year.

Finally, ISD 728 will continue to provide you with additional information as it becomes available. The most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and ISD 728 is available on the District’s website at, which includes answers to frequently asked questions, all current and past district-wide communications with students and families, ways to contact the District, and much more.

The past several months have been an incredibly challenging time for the entire ISD 728 community. I want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we have navigated this unprecedented situation together. We look forward to seeing our students again soon, and are grateful to be part of your journey.

Dr. Daniel Bittman,
ISD 728 Superintendent