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SPPS Fall Planning Update - August 12

Read this update in: Español | Hmoob | Soomaali | Karen

Dear Saint Paul Public Schools Families,

We hope you and your family are finding some moments of peace as we prepare for a new school year. We have spent the summer listening to our staff, students and families, crafting and refining our plans, and keeping our community’s well-being at the center of our decisions. 

After careful consideration of our students, families and staff, local health metrics, and our ability to safely reopen our doors this fall, Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) will start the 2020-21 school year in distance learning for all students. For the full plan and most up-to-date information, please visit spps.org/reopen2020.

Why did we choose this option?

While the current COVID-19 case rate in Ramsey County highlighted by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) allows public schools to open for some students, SPPS needs to meet several other criteria to safely welcome students and staff back to our buildings. This list includes site logistics for social distancing, known enrollment numbers, sufficient staffing and personal protective equipment, and major modifications to school schedules, class groupings, transportation and meal service to accommodate a hybrid learning schedule.

Committing to distance learning now allows our staff to start preparing their curriculum, gives students time to process this information, and helps families move forward with their plans for supporting their students this fall. 

We know this decision will not please everyone, and want to assure you it was based on data and science, with a focus on our community’s health, safety and well-being. SPPS is committed to reopening our buildings when it is safe to do so, and will reevaluate our learning model throughout the school year.

Distance Learning 2.0

DL 2.0 graphic

When Distance Learning was introduced this spring, it was an emergency response to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota. Since that time, SPPS has engaged several stakeholder groups for feedback. We listened to that feedback, and will introduce Distance Learning 2.0 as an improved platform for learning for the 2020-21 school year.

Our staff is committed to providing students and families the high-quality learning opportunities they expect. This fall, students will experience a new way of organizing lessons, one that aligns the look and feel of Schoology and Seesaw between courses to make them easier to navigate. There will be more “same time” learning, and grading expectations will be explained at the beginning of the course. 

Instruction for Distance Learning 2.0 will have daily same-time (synchronous) lessons for all students. Using technology tools we have in place, there will also be daily student-to-student interaction. More information about Distance Learning 2.0 will be shared in the coming weeks, including family and student checklists and supports.

Academic Support Centers

Multiple sites throughout Saint Paul will be staffed for in-person academic, social-emotional, health and technical support. Students will be referred by staff and parents, with priority for those with the greatest need. More information will be available after the start of the school year.

SPPS Virtual Learning School

Virtual Learning School graphic

The SPPS Virtual Learning School is an option for PreK-12 students who prefer to remain in 100% distance learning for the entire 2020-21 school year. Students who enroll in the Virtual Learning School will begin the school year with their currently assigned class at their home school.

Virtual Learning School students will stay in their currently enrolled home schools and classrooms until a transition is made to a hybrid model. As the district moves through the various levels of hybrid learning, students enrolled in the Virtual Learning School will transition to their Virtual Learning School classrooms.

When transitioning to their Virtual Learning School classrooms, dual language and immersion students will continue to receive immersion instruction, though possibly at a reduced level compared to their hybrid or in-person peers. Learn more at spps.org/virtuallearning.

Families who prefer the Virtual Learning School option should register by Friday, August 21, to help us plan for the school year.

Transition to In-Person Learning

Our ultimate goal is to welcome students and teachers back to our buildings when it is safe and possible to do so. SPPS has two dates when we will consider transitioning to a hybrid learning schedule:

Hybrid model dial graphic

  • Sept. 25 - Determine whether to start a hybrid schedule on Oct. 19
  • Oct. 14 - Determine whether to start a hybrid schedule on Nov. 16

Social-Emotional Learning

Distance Learning and the COVID-19 pandemic has created high levels of stress for many students, staff and families. This emphasizes the importance of social-emotional well-being. As we begin the new school year, it is vital that we find ways to genuinely welcome students and staff back to school, create connections and re-establish relationships under new circumstances.

To meet the social-emotional needs of students and staff, SPPS will:

  • Focus on developing and maintaining relationships
  • Continue and deepen implementation of the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports  (PBIS) Framework
  • Support schoolwide implementation of Restorative Practices as a way to build a positive and inclusive culture
  • Support mental health and wellness resources for students and staff  

Special Education

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 with families at the beginning of the school year to discuss individualized student needs and services for the 2020-21 school year. Meetings with families will be done virtually. Trained interpreters will be available to support communication with families as needed.  

Childcare Options

Kids at Discovery Club

SPPS will offer two childcare options while the district is in distance learning. School-age students 12 and under who are children of Tier 1 essential workers will be cared for at no cost during normal school hours. For registration, locations and other details, visit spps.org/ekidscare.

For families who do not qualify as Tier 1 essential workers, fee-based childcare will be available at four schools. Find more information on locations, fees and registration on the Discovery Club website.

Both programs will be staffed by non-licensed child care staff. Children will be grouped with the same small group of peers and staff each day. Masks will be required, and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for childcare programs will be strictly enforced.

A portion of the day will be set aside for students to work on their independent learning, and the remainder of the time will include enrichment and physical activity. Breakfast and lunch are also provided.

Health & Wellness

SPPS is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our students, staff and their families. To ensure this commitment is met, we have developed and will continue to revise the COVID-19 Student and Family Guidelines in response to the everchanging COVID-19 pandemic. These guidelines include expectations around social distancing, face coverings, health screening, and what happens when a positive or suspected case of COVID-19 is reported by a student, employee or visitor.

Changes to Enrollment

If you need to enroll a new student or have questions about your current enrollment, please contact the Student Placement Center at 651-632-3760 or spc@spps.org. You can also apply online at apply.spps.org. Several schools have openings now for all grades.

Athletics & Activities

Some athletics and activities will proceed this fall in accordance with the latest guidelines from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). Registration will take place online, and strict health and safety protocols will be followed for in-person practices and competitions. There will be changes to the number of teams, participants and contests allowed for each sport. Football and volleyball have been postponed to spring. Changes to arts programs are still being determined and will be shared soon.