Jordan students will return to school next month under a hybrid attendance model, the school board decided Monday night after listening to more than two hours of presentation on the proposal.
“This is probably the toughest decision we will ever have to make as a board,” Board President Deb Pauly said. “I hope we don’t get any tougher ones than this.”
The hybrid model was recommended by the school leadership team, headed by interim superintendent Ranae Case Evenson, after Gov. Tim Walz passed the decision onto local leaders last week. The school leadership team worked in concert with Scott Count public health officials to come to the decision. But the model can change throughout the year, Case Evenson said, as the district monitors coronavirus numbers and trends.
Under the planned model, Jordan Elementary School students will attend class in-person five days a week with classrooms at 50% capacity. That means some classes could keep students all in one spot, but other classes may be spread to multiple rooms, with teachers using short video conferences to reach both rooms.
“It’s not necessarily going to be a taped or pre-taped video, it could be live like a Google Meets or Zoom video,” Jordan Elementary School Principal Melissa Barnett said.
At the middle school, the plan is to have fifth and sixth grade students attend five days in-person, following the same capacity procedure as elementary students. Students in seventh and eighth grades will be split into two groups that alternate in-person days with distance learning days. Seventh and eighth grade students will spend their on-site time in the middle school commons and surrounding spaces.
At the high school level, students will be split into two groups and alternate in-person attendance days with distance learning. In-person days will follow the same 50% capacity procedure as the other buildings.
The board was presented with additional hybrid plans for the elementary and middle school, but approved the primary options that were preferred by staff.
In addition to the learning plans, all students and staff will follow strict social distancing parameters and a mask policy. The district will also implement frequent cleaning schedules in all buildings, limit transportation to 50% capacity, extend passing times, limit non-essential visitors and discontinue large activities and gatherings.
The district will also establish the Jordan Virtual Academy, a completely online enrollment option for families that are not ready to send their kids back to school facilities.
“Students will attend school online each day and work with teachers to complete learning activities both teacher-guided and independently,” Director of Teaching and Learning Erin Hjelmeland said. “These activities mirror the same standards, concepts and graduation requirements as in-school counterparts, however the delivery will be adapted to the online environment.”
High School Principal Jeff Vizenor said administrators have been developing these plans, as well as other scenarios, since May.
“I think they’ve done a complete and thorough analysis and worked and talked through and looked at so many options that I think they have proposed what will be best for our district,” board member Lauren Pederson said.
The board voted 6-1 to approve the hybrid model, with Sandy Burke voting opposed due to safety concerns.
“I think everybody has done the best that they can with the parameters we’ve been given,” Burke said. “I’m having a very hard time voting for full in-person learning for elementary kids when we don’t know what that’s going to look like in terms of what the spread will be of the virus. That really concerns me.”
The first day of school for grades 5-12 is Aug. 31; Sept. 2 for grades 1-4; and Sept. 8 for kindergarten and pre-school.