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Message from the Superintendent: Back to School Announcement

Dear Parents and Community Members:

This communication is meant to provide you with information about:

  1. The Governor’s Back to School Executive Order and its Impact on ISD 728
  2. How instructional model (Face-to-Face, Hybrid, Distance Learning) decisions will be  made within schools and/or the school district
  3. The opportunity to participate in the new, updated ISD 728 Distance Learning Model 
  4. Required Survey for All Families (Deadline - August 9, 2020)
  5. Important Upcoming Dates and Information


The Governor’s Back to School Opening Executive Order and its Impact on ISD 728

As you likely know, Governor Tim Walz announced today Executive Order 20-82 that school districts across Minnesota will work collaboratively with County Health Officials to determine how to provide instruction to start the 2020-2021 school year based on specific county-level data.
 
How Instructional Model (Face-to-Face, Hybrid, Distance Learning) Decisions will be Made Within Schools and/or the School District
ISD 728 serves children from five (5) different counties, which makes decision making extremely complex. While it is the intent and desire of ISD 728 to have students back in-person in our classrooms while providing an option for students to participate in distance learning, the Executive Order states “School districts MUST adhere to parameters set forth in the Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year in implementing the three instructional models (p. 2).”  

To make the determination, the Minnesota Department of Health provided a bi-weekly case rate (over 14 days) by county since May 31, 2020 today, as well as the parameters for when all school districts must utilize a Face-to-Face Model, versus a Hybrid or Distance Learning Model (See Chart Below).   

Department of Health Parameters

Number of cases per 10,000 over 14 days, by county of residence


Learning Model Recommended

0-9

In-person learning for all students

10-19

In-person learning for early childhood and elementary students; hybrid learning for secondary students

20-29

Hybrid learning for all students

30-49

Hybrid learning for early childhood and elementary students; distance learning for secondary students

50+

Distance learning for all students

 

It is ISD 728’s intent to provide Face-to-Face instruction, but the current county data does not support or allow this decision. As a result, ISD 728 will wait for the most up-to-date information to make its final determination. Unfortunately, the Department of Health will not release this information until August 20, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. We recognize how inconvenient this late deadline is for families and apologize for the inconvenience.

The Department of Health data will dictate what instructional model ISD 728 must use. ISD 728 will communicate the data and instructional model to all families on August 21, 2020. In the meantime, all families will have the option to choose the new, updated Distance Learning Model for their child(ren).  

The instructional model may change throughout the year based on the circumstances of each individual school, County and/or the District if the number of cases increases and warrants a different outcome.  

For specific information related to some of the efforts being made within the school district, please refer to the ISD 728 COVID 19 Plan, which is currently available on the District’s Website. 

Opportunity to Participate in the Distance Learning Model
Families who do not feel comfortable having their children attend school on campus will not be required to do so and may choose to have their child participate in the new, updated ISD 728 Distance Learning Program during the 2020-2021 school year.  

Please Note: The 2020 Distance Learning Model will be different than the model used last spring in many ways. For example, there will be daily interactions between students and teachers, and grade level expectations will be the same as in the traditional Face-to-Face Model. 

Required Survey for All Families (Deadline - August 9, 2020)
All ISD 728 families must indicate their preference about whether they would like to have their child(ren) participate in the new, updated District’s Distance Learning Model for the 2020-2021 school year at www.isd728.org/20-21-DistanceLearning, and will have until August 9, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. to indicate their preference. One survey submission per family is required.

By selecting Distance Learning by the August 9, 2020 deadline, a Parent/Guardian is guaranteed a spot within the ISD 728 District’s Distance Learning Program for their child(ren) and is committed to participating in this model until at least November 19, 2020. By having this information and commitment, ISD 728 will be better able to plan for and address staffing, transportation, and food service needs for all learners.

If Parents/Guardians of children participating in the Distance Learning Model are interested at some point in their child(ren) returning to a Face-to-Face Model after November 19, 2020, they will be given that opportunity if onsite, face-to-face instruction is allowed.  

Again, we are asking ALL families to complete this survey by August 9, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. If a Parent/Guardian is NOT interested in the Distance Learning Option for their child(ren), they will be able to indicate they are not interested and the survey will be complete. However, for families who select the Distance Learning Option, we will use this information for planning and communication purposes.
 
Important Upcoming Dates and Information
  • August 9, 2020:  Due date for the Parent/ Guardian Distance Learning Model Survey
  • August 17, 2020: ISD 728 will share how it will implement the three models within our schools
  • August 21, 2020: ISD 728 will share county data and the instructional model to be used by school and/or within the District

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 www.isd728.org, which includes information about parent survey results, the Governor’s most recent Executive Order 20-82, answers to frequently asked questions, all current and past district wide communications with students and families, ways to contact the District www.isd728.org/contact, 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.

Sincerely,

Dr. Daniel Bittman,
ISD 728 Superintendent