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Middle and High School Students Able to Return


On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, District Officials met with representatives from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), county public health officials, and our Regional Support Team (RST) to request approval to bring students in Grades 6 - 12 back to school in a face-to-face learning model. I am happy to inform you that our plan was approved.

Below you will find additional information.

When Will Middle and High School Students Return?
The Minnesota Department of Education allows three grade levels to return to a building at a time. As a result:

  • Students in Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12 will return to school February 16, 2021 (i.e. all grades except Grade 10). 
  • Students in Grade 10 will return to school on March 1, 2021

The decision for students in Grade 10 to return on March 1 instead of students in other grades was based on factors such as student achievement, credits needed for graduation, the number of students in each grade, and time spent in or remaining in school.

The Minnesota Department of Education gave permission for Zimmerman Middle/High School students in Grades 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12 to return on February 16, 2021 despite their grade band requirement. However, additional mitigation strategies may need to be implemented.

Planning Days - No School February 11 or 12, 2021
There will be no school for all students in Grades 6-12 on February 11 and 12, 2021 to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order related to planning. Students in all other grade levels (E-5) will have school either in-person or at home (for those who are 100% Distance Learning).

Middle and High School Schedule for Students in the Face-to-Face Learning Model
Middle and high school students who choose to return to school and are in the face-to-face learning model will come to school daily, Monday through Thursday, each week. Friday will remain a Distance Learning day for all middle and high school students.

Distance Learning Model
Students who choose to remain in the 100% Distance Learning Model instead of returning to school will not be attending Google Meets on their daily class schedule as they did during distance learning previously. Instead, much of the learning will be self-paced with independent, online lessons through Schoology. Students will have opportunities to check in with their teachers via Google Meet at least twice per week. Instruction may also include, but not be limited to such things as a live, 15-minute session with the teacher at the time of each course; pre recorded teacher lessons (i.e. flipped classroom); options to get additional support by meeting with each teacher at designated office meeting times, and onsite options for intervention groups or hands on courses. For further information related to the 100% Distance Learning Model, visit our website.

Learning Model Selection
Now that we know the plan has been approved, we are providing you with a final opportunity to change your child’s learning model prior to his/her return to school. If you would like to change the learning model for your middle or high school student, you must submit your request by 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2021 by completing this Learning Model Change Form.

If you have already submitted your choice, there is no need to submit another survey. However, if you submitted a survey and have now changed your mind, please submit a new survey as we will use the one you submitted last.

Note: If you are planning on changing your child to the Face-to-Face Learning Model and are requesting transportation, you will need to complete the transportation form that is provided at the conclusion of the Learning Model Change Form. If you do not need or want transportation, no further action is required.

Middle and High School Intervention Camps
The two week intervention camp that is currently happening for middle school students only will continue for these students through February 10, 2021. Due to course and schedule changes, the high school intervention camp will conclude on January 28, 2021 as previously communicated. If you have any questions about your child’s intervention camp, please contact your child’s principal.

Safety Precautions for Face-to-Face Learning
ISD 728 will be taking the following safety precautions:

  • Continue to require face coverings for staff and students.
  • Require frequent and thorough handwashing; provide access to hand sanitizers.
  • Provide bi-weekly saliva testing for staff.
  • Continue to require individual self-health screenings daily for students and staff.
  • Follow social distancing requirements as we are able
  • Maintain cleaning protocols.

Quarantine Guidelines
ISD 728 will continue to follow the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidance for isolation and quarantine recommendations as stated in the MDH Decision Tree. MDH and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) continue to recommend a 14 day quarantine for people exposed to someone who tests positive to COVID-19 for the greatest protection; However, ISD 728 will allow students to return to school and activities after 10 days if NO symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring and there has been no household exposure. Parents must notify the school if their child will be returning after 10 days.

Please Note: 14 days will still be the quarantine period if someone in the household has tested positive for COVID-19.

In order for your child to be exempt from quarantine because they have tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 90 days, documentation of the positive test result must be on file in your child’s school Health Office. This exemption only applies as long as your child self monitors and remains totally symptom free. If your child develops any symptoms, he/she would then need to revert back to the protocol on the MDH Decision Tree and isolate until receiving a negative COVID-19 test or an alternate diagnosis from a medical provider.

Important Dates

  • February 1 - 10: Middle School Intervention Camp
  • February 1: Students in Grades 3-5 Return Face-to-Face
  • February 11 & 12: No school for students in Grades 6-12 (Secondary Staff Planning Days) 
  • February 15: Presidents Day - No School for all ISD 728 Students
  • February 16: Students in Grades 3-5, 6-8, 9,11 & 12 return to school
  • March 1: Students in Grade 10 return to school

Assistance Requested
We have worked tirelessly to return to an in-person learning model and want our students to remain in school. However, the health and safety of our students and staff remain our highest priority. Please help us keep our students in school by following state guidelines and implementing the recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Health:

  • Wear a face covering when outside your home.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from persons not in your household if possible.
  • Protect yourself and others by washing your hands often with soap and water, cover your cough, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Frequently clean all commonly touched surfaces (i.e. doorknobs, countertops).
  • If you are sick, stay home.

We will continue to closely monitor case rate numbers as well as other data. If data suggests it is not safe to remain in an in-person learning model, or if we are unable to maintain appropriate staffing levels, we will shift to and/or maintain a more restrictive learning model. It will take ALL of us, working together, to keep our students in school.

We are grateful to be able to bring students back to school who are interested in the face-to-face model, and to offer distance learning opportunities for those who would prefer that model. Thank you for your continued support of ISD 728. Take care and be safe.

Dr. Daniel Bittman
ISD 728 Superintendent