Update on SPPS Fall Planning - July 1
It has been a complicated and unsettling spring as we have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning, job losses, business closings, the tragic murder of George Floyd and the unrest that has followed.
These events have challenged all of us. We hope you and your family have come together during this time to find peace and an even stronger sense of commitment to our community in this changing environment.
Unfortunately, there are many uncertainties ahead of us, as we all begin imagining what the 2020-21 school year will look like. Will our students return to learning in school? When? What will school look like?
While none of us has those answers yet, please know that staff at Saint Paul Public Schools are making plans this summer for each of the three reopening scenarios the Minnesota Department of Education has shared with school districts, so we are able to provide our students with the best educational experience possible in fall 2020 during a continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
It is critical for us to understand your needs as we do our planning. Later this week, we will begin sending pulse survey questions to understand your questions, concerns, needs and thoughts about starting school in the fall.
A pulse survey is a very short survey that will be sent out regularly between July and September. It serves as a check-in on the community’s opinions about fall. We are interested in your concerns, questions and communication needs.
Your feedback is very important.
Planning for fall
We would prefer a scenario where all students will return to our schools in September. We want to get back to doing what we do best -- teaching and learning with students in person. However, we are working under the assumption that all three scenarios will be used at different times during the school year.
We will not know the state’s decision until Governor Walz issues an order later this summer. At this time, we expect to have clarity sometime in late July. Despite this uncertainty, our planning will focus on three broad possible scenarios:
- A full return of students in all schools for in-person learning.
- A partial return of students in some schools with a hybrid approach of distance learning and in-person learning.
- No immediate return of any students and a continuation of distance learning.
September 8 Start
Each of these scenarios requires unique planning, but the common approach to all is the belief that school will begin after Labor Day on September 8 for grades 1-12 and September 10 for PreK and Kindergarten as planned.
Just as we experienced this spring, we expect to receive specific guidance about how schools must operate from public health officials and the Minnesota Department of Education at the end of July.
Participation in Planning
Earlier this spring, we asked students, families and staff for feedback on our approach to distance learning. We have numerous working groups who will use these insights, along with information we receive from engagement this summer, to develop plans for improved distance learning in the event a full return of students is not allowed. If distance learning is once again required, we expect it may look different for students this fall.
Students, families and staff will receive a series of surveys throughout the summer. These surveys will help us gain important feedback from our community to inform decisions made in our planning for all three scenarios. Please take the time to complete these surveys.
Health and Safety
Please be assured that all our decisions will align with guidance from the state and will be made with health and safety of students, staff and families as the top priority. We appreciated the patience, flexibility and understanding that you all showed us this spring. We hope that continues into the fall as we all prepare to face new and unknown challenges.
It’s important for families to know what to expect for this fall as soon as it is possible. Families can expect to receive email notices like this at key times throughout the summer as more guidance is available from the state and as decisions are finalized.
In the absence of communication, please understand that planning is continuing and no decisions have been made. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and families can visit spps.org/reopen2020 for updates throughout the summer.
Despite all the unknowns, we can say for certain that school will look different for students, staff and families in the fall. However, please be assured that we will first and foremost consider the safety of everyone, and we will share our plans as soon as we can.