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Saint Paul Public Schools Fall Planning Update - July 20

Dear Saint Paul Public Schools Families,

Thank you to those of you who were able to tune into Superintendent Joe Gothard’s virtual meeting. We value your time and sincerely apologize for the delay in the live broadcast. The recording is now available to watch at your convenience here:

As a follow-up, we want to provide further detail about our fall planning based on the preliminary guidelines and scenarios laid out by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). Information about this process will be posted and updated at as decisions are made at the state and district levels.

We expect to receive specific guidance about how public schools in Minnesota must operate by July 27. While we don’t know what MDE will decide, we do know that school will look different this fall. We will continue to share information and decisions as they are made, and want to thank you for being a valued member of our community. 

You may leave your comments and questions about fall planning in our new online forum and staff will do their best to answer your questions as soon as possible. Here is the link to the forum:

Three Scenarios

As a reminder, we are working under the assumption that any of the three scenarios below may be used at different times during the school year:

Three scenarios graphic

Distance Learning as a Choice

Regardless of the scenario that MDE advises school districts to follow, SPPS will be offering a Distance 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.

This Distance Learning School will maintain a student's path to graduation and will address state standards. Look for more information and registration details in the coming weeks.

Hybrid Instruction

According to MDE, a hybrid model will be implemented if and when COVID-19 metrics worsen at the local, regional or state level.

At SPPS, the hybrid schedule will split students into two groups, with each group in school two days per week and distance learning the other three days. Efforts will be made to place siblings on the same schedule. SPPS is working to develop distance learning support options for the days that students are not in school.

Hybrid schedule graphic

Curriculum and Instruction

We are working to finalize what Distance Learning 2.0 will look like for students, teachers and families. Having Distance Learning be the basis of learning, regardless of the scenario we are in, means that teachers will have the grade-level lessons and assignments in Schoology and Seesaw for each day. These lessons will be designed in a similar way to create consistent experiences at individual schools and across the district.

This method of planning will lead us to be ready for quarantine periods for individual classes or schools that may have to close due to COVID-19. 

Pulse Survey Results

SPPS recently completed the Phase 1 Pulse survey. More than 10,000 students, staff and families responded to the survey. You can view the results here.

According to our pulse survey results, the top concerns about returning to school in person are similar among students, staff and families. Those concerns are about PPE, the fact that no vaccine is available yet, social distancing and large spaces, hallways, etc. that can’t be controlled.

We understand these concerns, and will continue to monitor how students, staff and families feel about returning to school through more pulse surveys. The second pulse survey will be sent this week, so please look for that survey and respond. Your feedback is very important.

Health and Safety

Please know that health and safety is a top priority in SPPS. Some of the changes that students, staff 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. Some of these health protocols include:

  • Health guidelines and expectations for students and families
  • 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
  • Changes to food service including minimizing self-service options and additional eating spaces

More information about these protocols will be shared in the coming weeks. 


Facilities and Operations staff are working on readiness plans and protocols for getting our buildings ready for in-person and hybrid scenarios, which include:

  • Hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and wipes in every classroom
  • Water bottles for every student
  • Continuation of the four-tiered cleaning plan that has been in place since March
  • Running enhanced filtration and mechanical systems longer every day to draw in more fresh outside air
  • Final analysis of classroom capacity, cafeteria and kitchen layouts to ensure safe service

Fall Planning Timeline graphic

More information about fall planning is available at Please check back often as updates will be made on a regular basis. Thank you for being a valued member of our SPPS community.