Jordan Public Schools administrators shared details on what the district’s classrooms could look like in the fall, whether virtual or in-person, as districts across the state await guidance from state leaders on how to proceed with instruction.
Interim Superintendent Ranae Case Evenson said Jordan’s fall planning process is guided by a leadership group consisting of school principals, administration personnel and the health and safety committee, and will eventually seek community and faculty input through a survey.
“We have an extensive stakeholder group to help guide the decisions we are making,” Case Evenson said.
Minnesota school districts last month began compiling plans for three scenarios laid out by the state departments of health and education.
In the first scenario, students would return to schools for something like an ordinary school year, though large gatherings and physical proximity would be somewhat limited. The third scenario would bring the same distance learning from this spring. And the second scenario in between would be a mix, with schools and buses at half capacity.
State officials are expected to be announce their decision by July 27, but Case Evenson said some details could come sooner.
“We have this last week heard some indication we may get bits of information even as early as this week, though there is no guarantee it will be exactly what we are looking for in terms of moving forward,” Case Evenson said.
But whatever decision state officials come to later this month may not be final, Case Evenson told the Jordan School Board Monday, July 13.
“They could share with us ‘you need to go with this scenario,’ and then, depending on the metrics, they could shift us into another model — so we have to be flexible in our thinking and planning,” she said.
What’s more, districts may elect to implement strategies that are more restrictive than MDE’s guidance, but not less restrictive.
Jordan Elementary School Principal Melissa Barnett said under the in-person scenario, the school would rely on established COVID-19 guidelines to maintain social distancing with staff and students.
“A lot of that would probably be based on schedules in all of our buildings and trying to figure out passing time to avoid some of those larger groups of students,” Barnett said.
Barnett also said administration is reviewing the spring distance learning model with faculty and identify learning gaps to target individual learning needs for the fall return.
Under the hybrid scenario, the district would be required to limit the number of people in buildings and on transportation vehicles and would prioritize student groups that should be brought back to buildings for in-person education. In-school students and staff would be required to maintain a six-foot distance.
The third scenario would be similar to the spring model, where students receive daily interaction and instruction from teachers online. But one difference this fall, board president Deb Pauly noted, is that teachers would have to develop relationships with their students entirely outside of the classroom.
“The one thing that does make me nervous is the fact that we had the advantage this year of teachers and the administration knowing the students for six months before we went into it,” Pauly said. “That is going to be a real challenge.”
Regardless of education department’s decision, the district is planning to offer distance learning to enrolled students who may be medically vulnerable or otherwise unable or unwilling to return to in-person or hybrid learning.