Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District officials have not yet announced plans for how learning will be conducted this fall.
The Board of Education met virtually Thursday to take a look at the different options being developed, but Superintendent Theresa Battle said the board won't see a recommended plan until the regular meeting on Aug. 13.
The public school districts of Jordan and Shakopee have announced plans to return students to classrooms this fall under a hybrid model.
Under state orders, all districts will need to offer a full-time distance learning option for any families who prefer to stick to that route yearlong.
In Burnsville-Eagan-Savage, a survey of nearly 2,500 families showed the majority of local families prefer to begin the year under a hybrid model this fall.
Around 62% of respondents said they somewhat support or strongly support a hybrid model, and 51% said they somewhat oppose or strongly oppose returning to school with in-person learning.
Around 43% said they somewhat oppose or strongly oppose distance learning, according to data from the district.
On Thursday, the last 14 days of data showed 19.8 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in Dakota County and 20.6 cases per 100,000 residents in Scott County, Battle said.
The state's guidance for choosing a learning model based-on cases per 100,000 resident within the county is as follows:
- 0-9: In-person learning for all students.
- 10-19: In-person learning for elementary students; hybrid learning for secondary students.
- 20-29: Hybrid learning for all students.
- 30-49: Hybrid learning for elementary students; distance learning for secondary students.
- 50+: Distance learning for all students.
Districts serving more than one county must follow the guidance for the higher caseload, Battle said.
Districts may choose a more restrictive model than what the state's guidance calls for, but cannot go the other way toward in-person learning unless their caseload allows for it.
District leaders say some things won't change this fall no matter what learning model is in place.
School meals will be provided to children in the community and free day-time childcare will be available for children of essential workers.
Daycare before and after school will also be provided for a fee.
Lisa Rider, the district’s executive director of business services, said they're hoping to be able to provide a sliding fee for families who can't afford the full cost of childcare.
Imina Oftedahl, the district's director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, presented an outline of what the district's hybrid model might look like if officials choose to adopt hybrid learning for the fall.
Under the proposal, younger students would be prioritized for spending more time in the classroom.
- Pre-kindergarten through grade 2: Four days per week in-person, 1 day week distance learning
- Grades 3-5: Two days per week in-person, 3 days per week distance learning
- Grades 6-12: Two days per week in-person, 3 days per week distance learning. Half of the students would attend classes Monday and Tuesday and the other half would attend Thursday and Friday.
- Wednesday would be distance learning for all students.
- Burnsville Alternative High School: Two or four days per week in-person
“We really wanted to ensure that in every model students had an opportunity for at least one day of distance learning, because we believe we'll need to pivot back and forth, and in order to do that we wanted to build the independence and capacity of students and families to manage their own online activities," Oftedahl said.
Assistant Superintendent Brian Gersich said "One91 Virtual Academy" — being designed for students who choose full-time distance learning this year — is also laying the groundwork for the district to permanently offer online schooling as an option.
A comprehensive and supplemental online learning option is proposed to be rolled out in 2021-22.
The online learning environment being designed could be a way for the district to differentiate itself and better compete for students in areas outside of district lines, Gersich lines.
Rachel Gorton, the district’s director of technology, said feedback from summer programming helped district leaders identify some of the key aspects of a positive virtual learning experience.
Synchronous learning — when students can learn alongside other students — proved to be a valuable part of the virtual learning experience. With some new technology on-hand, and enhanced ways to support families using it, the district will prioritize synchronous learning in their remote learning programming this year, she said.
“Virtual academy is not the answer for every student, but it is the answer for some students,” Gorton said.