Governor Walz and Minnesota Department of Education Announce Return to School Options For The 2020-2021 School Year
Dear Eagle Ridge Academy Staff and Families,
|This afternoon, Governor Tim Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan, along with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 school year.
Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan for the 2020-21 School Year uses a localized, data-driven approach that allows Eagle Ridge Academy to operate in a learning model that is responsive to the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in our community. The plan prioritizes safe learning for all Minnesota students and requires all schools to have a distance learning option for students.
To begin the 2020-21 school year, MDH developed parameters using county public health data to support the determination of learning models for each school district and charter school. In order to determine the base learning model for the beginning of the school year, ERA will review the bi-weekly case rates, over 14 day periods, for the counties in which our student population resides. This data represents the number of cases per 10,000 people, by county of residence in Minnesota, over a 14-day period, by the date when a person was tested.
View the bi-weekly case rates by county on the MDH website. Over 80% of our students are from Hennepin County and we will generally use Hennepin County data to help in our decision making. As of 7/30/2020, Hennepin County is at 21. Thus, the recommendation would be hybrid.
Recommended Learning Model Parameters
Regional Support Teams and Consultation
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), regional service cooperatives, and local public health are collaborating to create regional support teams to support school districts and charter schools in navigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2020-21 school year.
Beginning July 30, school districts and charter schools may begin working with a consultant to discuss their learning model determination.
Beginning August 24, school districts and charter schools will consult with their regional support teams regarding implementation and ongoing evaluation of their learning model.
Regardless of which safe learning model is implemented, ERA must adhere to the health requirements and recommendations in MDH 2020-21 Planning Guidance for Schools and MDE 2020-21 Planning Guidance for Minnesota Public Schools, which were released in June.
School-age Care for Children of Essential Workers
Care for school-aged children of certain workers in critical sectors will continue to be crucial for frontline workers to continue to confront the pandemic. During a hybrid or distance learning model when students are not receiving in-person instruction, districts and charter schools must provide care for school-age children age 12 and under who are children of critical workers on Tier I of the state critical worker list. This care is provided during regular school hours at no cost. More information, including the critical worker list, is available in MDE’s 2020-21 Planning Guidance for Minnesota Public Schools.
Next Steps to Decision Making
1. We will conduct a Staff survey to determine which teachers prefer to teach remotely, given the new information.
2. We will provide an opportunity for our families to request to start the school year in distance learning.
3. We will collaborate with other schools regarding their learning model to start the year.
4. We will receive consultation from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Our goal is to share our decision as to whether we start in the hybrid model or distance learning model by August 14. I do not foresee a situation where we start school in person.
- In the hybrid model, there are strict capacity limits to ensure physical distancing. The hybrid model will be a 50% split of students who do not choose distance learning as their preference.
- Students will be divided into two groups: A Group and B Group. Families will be put into the same group. In one example of a hybrid schedule, A Group students and
B Group students will alternate their time in the building by week. A weekly hybrid schedule is preferred
over a daily hybrid schedule as it allows an organic quarantine for each group.
- On A Week, A Group students will be in the school building Monday-Thursday for in-person learning while
B Group students are at home doing distance learning. On Fridays, all students and staff will be at home in
distance learning supported work time and will be preparing for the following week’s transition. This will
allow for the building to be sanitized and all of the air in the building to circulate before the following week.
During the following week, Group A students will be at home doing distance learning while B Group
students will be in the school building Monday-Thursday for in-person learning.
- Synchronous Learning Environment. Our intention is to engage in synchronous learning as much as possible. Synchronous learning is real-time learning that is relational. Students and teachers will interact in a specific virtual place. In order to maintain the integrity of our Classical content and pedagogy, and to meet the state guidelines, teachers will be increasing the amount of direct instruction provided to students to match in-person learning
Distance Learning Model
Regardless of whether we start the school year in a hybrid learning model or full time distance learning model, families will have the option to enroll their children in distance learning at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
- In grades 6-12, our goal is to primarily provide live instruction. Students choosing to be distance
learning will follow their same period schedule and log into class on Zoom to participate in live
instruction taking place at Eagle Ridge Academy.
- In grades K-5, students will participate in a distance learning cohort with dedicated teachers. There may
be opportunities for K-5 students to participate in live instruction. We are still working on specialty
classes such as physical education and art that may not be feasible for synchronous instruction.
- Distance learning students will be held to the same rigor, expectations, grading, and learning objectives
as those that are participating in person. This will match hour to hour the instruction that students
would receive in face-to-face classroom. Attendance will be taken daily.
- Students are encouraged to use a device from home because it provides a more seamless transition
into distance learning. Canvas, the Learning Management System, works with any device including cell phones, as it allows the
user to download material for offline use.
- The Academy will provide devices to students on an as needed basis.
Friends of Eagle Ridge Academy is the funding entity for Eagle Ridge Academy, a non-profit, Public Classical Charter School serving students in grades K-12.