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.
Dear Eagle Ridge Academy,
The end of summer is drawing near and the start of school is closer than it appears. Parents across the country wait with anticipation to learn of the manner in which schools will reopen. The range of feelings, opinions, and beliefs are as varying and polarized as I have experienced on any topic. The question being asked: how do we best educate our children, in the safest environment possible, in this COVID reality? Read the newspaper, Facebook, YouTube, or ask a friend who is six feet away in the park, and you will get dozens of answers.
The reality of decision making for the reopening of schools in Minnesota is that the individual schools do not have much flexibility. The number of guidelines and executive orders that we have received limits our decision making ability. In most cases, I am for school level decision making; however, in this situation, I am grateful for the guidance and expertise we are receiving from our leaders.
Eagle Ridge Academy has developed our 2020-2021 Scenario Planning Guide and our 2020-2021 Roadmap to Reopening based upon hundreds of pages of guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), health consultants, and human resource professionals. In addition, we have worked with parent and staff volunteer task force members to develop plans that adhere to those guidelines and repackage them to meet the unique needs of the Academy. Our task force was basically provided 90 days to reinvent school with ever changing rules in the middle of a pandemic. And they did an AMAZING job!
The plans are living documents and will be improved throughout the year. We will continue to take ideas and work toward improving education, safety, and social emotional needs for our staff and students. What we will not do as a community, is allow politics to drive our decision making.
Because of the unique needs and concerns of our students, the Academy will provide choices! Families have the option to participate in distance learning or in-person and hybrid learning. Our staff has worked hard to develop ways in which to meet your unique needs. These choices are detailed in our plan. The most important part of the overall plan is the Scenario Planning Guide. We hired Woodstone Consulting to develop a unique plan for our facility that will best keep our students and staff safe.
Starting July 28, we will hold preliminary feedback sessions for staff and families. The sign up form for feedback sessions will be emailed this afternoon. Please read through the reopening plan and be prepared to share ideas and thoughts. The attached plan is a DRAFT.
Governor Walz is scheduled to announce how schools will open on July 30. The plans that we have developed are 70% complete, and will be finalized as we receive further guidance.
In closing, I ask that all members of the Eagle Ridge Academy community develop a mindset of keeping others safe.
- Students have a choice if they want to be onsite, our staff has less of a choice. They face risk every day, and we will not tolerate situations that put them in harm’s way. Families need to read the Scenario Planning Guide and determine if they can meet the stated guidelines. If you cannot, please choose the distance learning option.
- There is a wide spectrum of fear and beliefs in regard to COVID. Please work to understand and empathize with others’ fears and concerns, even if you don’t agree.