Reopen SPPS Plans
Conditions to Transition to Distance Learning
State guidelines encourage school districts to look at multiple factors when making decisions about "dialing back" or temporary shifts to distance learning. The guidelines do not set a county COVID-19 case rate that would trigger a shift to distance learning.
SPPS will continue in-person learning under the following conditions:
State and county regional support team affirms the district’s plan follows the guidelines laid out in the Safe Learning Plan
Schools are implementing and monitoring the state and district health and safety protocols. This includes social distancing, face coverings, ventilation, hand-washing routines, and optional COVID testing.
Reported cases of COVID-19 are being monitored and acted on in accordance with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines. This includes contract tracing, consideration for the source of any infections, tracking building/classroom case counts, and following the MDH decision tree for schools (linked above).
There are enough teachers and other staff available to continue in-person learning at a site.
In a situation where these conditions are not met, there may be a temporary shift in learning model for an individual classroom or school. Decisions to shift learning models will be made by the district in close consultation with the state and county regional support team.
Health & Safety Guidelines
SPPS is following Minnesota’s updated Safe Learning Plan to ensure a safe return to in-person learning. Some of the new safety measures are:
- Face masks and face shields should be worn together by school staff whenever possible during the school day
- In settings where seeing a person’s lips is necessary, staff are strongly encouraged to wear a clear face mask in addition to a face shield
- In situations where wearing a face mask and a face shield creates a safety concern (e.g. operating a vehicle, working in a kitchen, lab, etc.), staff may choose to wear a mask only
- For early learning and elementary: Special lessons must be held in the classroom or outside (weather permitting)
- Physical education, art, and support services (counseling, special education, etc.) may be held indoors outside of individual classrooms
- Meals should be eaten in the classroom if 6 feet of physical distancing between students cannot be accommodated in the cafeteria and classes cannot be clearly separated within the cafeteria
- Three feet of physical distancing or more is strongly recommended
COVID-19 Health Protocols
SPPS is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our students, staff and their families. Some of the changes that staff, students and families will see when returning to school include a masking policy, passive health screening guidelines, and changes to our cleaning protocols and meal service, among others. Building leaders have collaborated on these guidelines and are prepared to implement them at our schools.
Some of these health protocols include:
- COVID-19 Student and Family Guidelines
- Updated reporting system for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms
- Guidance around masking (cloth face coverings)
- Health screening checklist and guidelines
- Signage around masking, social distancing/floor markings, health screening checklist, handwashing and COVID-19 symptoms
Public health guidelines have recently changed regarding COVID-19 quarantines due to close contacts. Saint Paul Public Schools has updated its guidelines to address these changes. SPPS has reduced quarantine time from 14 days to 10 days in certain circumstances. You cannot end your quarantine before 10 days for any reason. 14-day quarantines are still required when someone in your household has symptoms of or has tested positive for COVID-19, as the risk for infecting others is higher within the same household.
K-12 students, SPPS employees and visitors are required to wear a face covering unless medically exempt. Face coverings are required in all SPPS school buildings, district offices and while riding on school transportation vehicles. Pre-K students are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings if they can do so in compliance with CDC guidance on How to Wear Cloth Face Covering.
Students, staff and visitors are expected to provide their own face coverings whenever possible. However, masks will be available for anyone who needs them.
Health Screening GuidelinesSPPS needs your help in controlling the spread of COVID-19 by identifying and reporting concerns early and following recommended exclusion guidance.Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Answer the following four questions:
- Fever greater than or equal to 100.4° F
- New onset and/or worsening cough
- Difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell; OR
- at least 2 of the following:
- sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, muscle pain, excessive fatigue, new onset of headache, new onset of nasal congestion or runny nose
If you answered YES to any of the above:
- Did my child recently test positive for COVID-19?
- Does my child have any of the COVID-19 symptoms listed above?
- Does my child live with someone who is being tested for COVID-19 or showing symptoms of COVID-19?
- Did my child have close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19?
- Do not send your child to school or activities, report your child's absence
- Report your child's symptoms or exposure using the online SPPS COVID-19 Reporting System found at spps.org and on all school homepages
In order to safely transition to in-person learning, the state requires schools to implement a rolling start in which students will gradually be brought back in the building. No more than three grade levels can be introduced into a school building in a two-week time period. Pre-K can be included with kindergarten if they are kept separate from the other grades.
The Minnesota Safe Learning Plan requires that school districts use at least two school days for planning and building preparation when changing learning models. There will be no instruction on these days.
For SPPS, these transition days will be:
- PreK-5, ESCE and Federal IV Special Education programs: January 25-29. January 29 was a previously scheduled teacher professional development day, so there will be no instruction for elementary students that week.
- Grades 6-12: To be determined
The Facilities Department has been busily preparing schools and buildings for staff and student safety. Improved ventilation, daily building sanitation, and safety reminders posted throughout schools are some of the many steps being taken to ensure a safe return to school.
Additional information about our facilities plan can be found here: spps.org/Page/40753
In-Person Meal Service
SPPS has changed our typical food service procedures in each of our schools. Cafeteria attendants and additional lunch monitors will assist with traffic flow, cleaning and customer service. Breakfast and lunch will be free to all students during in-person learning.
Breakfast service will continue with slight modifications and some menu changes. Students will continue to eat breakfast in their classroom. School cafeterias will be used for serving and eating lunch. Tables will be set to reinforce social distance, and cohorts will remain separate when they are eating in the cafeteria. Signs and floor decals will help remind students to maintain social distance. Acrylic partitions will be placed between staff and students at the serving line, and covered containers will replace traditional lunch trays.
In buildings where the cafeteria is not large enough to meet social distancing guidelines, classrooms may be used as dining space. Nutrition staff will prepare and package meals, and transport foods in individual containers to classrooms.Hand hygiene practices will be in place for all students and staff, and staff will wear face coverings with a face shield when serving students.
After-School Meal Kits
Students attending school in-person will also have the option to take home after-school meal kits, which will include a variety of healthy foods and recipes. Meal kits will be offered at no cost and distributed once a week to students.
Meal Pickup & Delivery
Meal boxes are available for pickup at select schools throughout Saint Paul. Meals are free to all children 18 and under, plus those with a disability currently enrolled in a school program, who are not receiving meals at school. After January 25, delivery will only be available to a limited number of Saint Paul Public Schools students who are medically fragile or cannot leave their home to pick up meals.
For more information, visit spps.org/2021meals.
Transportation: Riding the Bus Safely
Here are some of the health and safety practices that will be implemented when transporting students to and from school.
Bus drivers and K-12 students are required to wear masks on the bus. Bus drivers have student masks available if needed.
Arrival and Departure
School staff will supervise bus drop-off by meeting each bus, monitoring the number of students exiting at one time, and encouraging students to maintain social distancing. Schools will design a dismissal routine that supports social distancing.
Families are responsible for checking their student’s symptoms before they go to the bus stop.
Cleaning and Disinfecting
Buses are disinfected daily. Drivers will sanitize high-touch areas between runs.
Weather permitting, windows will be open to help increase air circulation.
Cleaning & Disinfecting
Student Health and Wellness, Environmental Services Group (ESG), Security and Emergency Management, and custodial staff are working closely together to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Saint Paul Public Schools follows a four-tiered cleaning plan to reports of COVID-19 related symptoms and/or diagnosis.
Our custodial staff will significantly increase the wiping down and disinfecting of public spaces and high-touch surfaces across our buildings and throughout the school day. We will also provide greater access to cleaning materials for our teachers and staff so that they can clean and disinfect spaces, as needed.
Each evening, our custodial team will conduct a thorough cleaning of our spaces, again disinfecting high-touch surfaces like sinks, drinking fountains, door handles, tables and desks.
SPPS Virtual Learning School
Regardless of the scenario that MDE advises school districts to follow, SPPS will be offering SPPS Virtual Learning School throughout the year for any family who does not want their students to attend an in-person or hybrid schooling option for the 2020-2021 school year.
SPPS Virtual Learning will maintain a student's path to graduation and will address state standards.
SPPS students ages 12 and under who are children of Tier 1 critical workers will be cared for at no cost during normal school hours. This program is staffed by non-licensed childcare staff. Children are with the same small group of peers and staff each day. Masks are required, and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for childcare programs are strictly enforced.
Time is set aside for students to work on their distance learning. They are expected to work independently with minimal assistance from staff. Breakfast and lunch are also provided. Learn more about Essential Kids Care here.
Families who previously registered for before and after-school care through Discovery Club have until December 27 to confirm their childcare needs. Staffing capacity will determine whether care can begin prior to all PreK-5 students returning to in-person learning. For more information, visit spps.org/discoveryclub and click Register.
Athletics & Activities
Following the current Executive Order from Governor Tim Walz, all in-person athletics and extracurricular activities are currently paused. SPPS will resume practices for winter sports on January 14. For more information, please visit spps.org/sports.
Academic Support Center
The purpose of the SPPS Academic Support Center is to provide in-person academic and/or social-emotional learning support for 6-12 grade students and their families during distance learning. The centers will provide academic support, not classroom instruction.
A team of Educational Assistants, Teaching Assistants, SPPS temporary staff, retired teachers, contractors, community partners, and volunteers with a background in education and teaching, will provide the support to all students visiting these centers.
The center will reopen on January 19 at Washington Technology Magnet School. For more information, visit spps.org/asc.
Special Education & Multilingual Learners
We know that distance learning in the spring was particularly challenging for our special education and English Language (EL) students. Special education teachers will meet virtually with families at the beginning of the school year to discuss individualized student needs and services for the 2020-21 school year. Trained interpreters will be available to support communication with families as needed. Service delivery will be individualized to meet IEP/IFSP goals and align with the learning model that SPPS is in at any given time.
English Language (EL) learners will have access to standards-based content courses as well as differentiated instruction in all academic content areas in each learning model (distance learning, hybrid or in person). In all stages, educators will follow the EL service models:
Early Childhood Services (Pre-K and ECSE)
Students enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) programs will be provided regular instruction through Seesaw, resources from the School Home Partners in Learning program (available in multiple languages) as well as "Talk, Read, Write, Play, Sing" family learning opportunities. All Pre-Kindergarten students will receive an iPad and learning kit, which contains hands-on materials to enrich learning opportunities.
It is a regular feature of SPPS Pre-K programming that families agree to collaborate and support learning activities with their children. This will continue in Distance Learning.
Students receiving Early Childhood Special Education services will have learning activities tailored to their IFSP and IEP goals, including consulting with caregivers on implementing strategies during daily routines.
Safe Learning Models
The Minnesota Department of Education has asked school districts to plan for fall based on these three models:
Scenario 1: In-person learning for all students
- Create as much space between students and teachers as is feasible during the day
- Not held strictly to enforcing 6 feet of social distancing during primary instructional time in the classroom
- Implemented if state COVID-19 metrics continue to stabilize and/or improve
Scenario 2: Hybrid model with strict social distancing and capacity limits
- Limit the overall number of people in school facilities and on transportation vehicles to 50% maximum occupancy
- Sufficient social distancing with at least 6 feet between people must occur at all times
- Contactless pick-up and/or delivery of meals and school materials for days that students and staff are not in the school building
- School-age care program for students of critical workers
- Implemented if COVID-19 metrics worsen at the local, regional or statewide level OR within individual school(s) if they experience clusters of cases within a classroom or the school
Scenario 3: Distance learning only
- Schools may be open to provide emergency childcare or other functions
- Implemented if local, regional or statewide COVID-19 metrics worsen significantly enough to require the suspension of in-person learning
In addition, SPPS will offer SPPS Virtual Learning school for any family who does not want their students to attend an in-person or hybrid schooling option for the 2020-2021 school year.
Focus on the needs of students and families.
Prioritize community well-being, including the social emotional and physical health needs of students and staff.
Champion equity and make sure students maintain progress toward their learning goals.
Design fiscally responsible and sustainable solutions.
Assumptions that Inform our Decision-Making
- There will be active cases of COVID-19 in Saint Paul or Ramsey County at the time of school opening and throughout the 2020-21 school year.
- There will not be a vaccine developed in time to impact the 2020-21 school year.
- There will be increased absenteeism or extended absences due to illness or exposure (isolation and quarantine).
- The District will be operating in an environment of significantly reduced state revenues.
- Costs to provide services will be atypical and may potentially be higher than prior years.
- There will be a cost in dollars, time, supplies and increased operational friction to reduce the risk of transmission.
- There will be an outbreak of COVID-19 during the school year at one or more of our schools that may require at least a temporary school closure. Schools may need to quickly pivot between delivery models as the COVID risk changes.
- Not all students at all grade levels will be on-campus at one time. Students may receive at least part of their instruction online or via other non seat-based means.
- Certain non-core functions of the District may be curtailed, postponed or eliminated.
- Large group assemblies (school assemblies, large-scale communal meal service, athletic events with large groups of spectators) will not be possible.
- When at school and where possible, students will limit movement between spaces to avoid cross-contamination and maintain social distancing requirements.
- There will be families who will not have their students participate in on-campus instruction for part, or the entirety, of the pandemic.
- There will be staff who are unable to return to their usual work locations due to health concerns. There will be staff who do not want to return to work.
- There will be staff that may not have work assignments (or a workload) based on how school is structured in 2020-21. Staff will have to perform different work responsibilities.
- More school staff may be needed; if a school model calls for smaller class sizes beyond contract language.
- There will be increased absenteeism or extended absences due to illness or exposure (isolation and quarantine).
- Teachers will need additional training to improve their digital instructional knowledge, skills, assessment, feedback and grading.
Reopen SPPS Work Groups
- COVID-19 impact on FY20 district finances
- Federal and State COIVD-19 funds
Communications, Engagement and Evaluation
- Communications plan
- Engagement plan
- Evaluation plan
Curriculum and Instruction
- Instructional design models for fall in three scenarios
- Spring Distance Learning review
- Student engagement in learning
- SpEd, ML and GT services
- Professional Development
Facilities and Operations
- Space usage plans, modeling social distancing and operational scenarios
- Implementation of social distancing, PPE and cleaning protocols
- Social distancing, PPE and other health guidelines
- Student and employee wellness manual
- Building visitor guidelines
Schedules, School Support Services
- School schedules in three scenarios
- Social/emotional supports
- First month of school planning
- School year contingencies for differing levels of building access
- Access to technology
- Logistics of iPad handout and set-up
- Technology maintenance and replacement
- Adjusting staffing and bargaining unit MOUs to evolving organizational needs
- Support for staff that are at elevated risk for COVID