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Parents with students in Shakopee Public Schools will have two options for the upcoming school year: go completely online or let the district decide.

Shakopee Public Schools will follow the state’s recommendations for the reopening of schools by allowing students and families to choose between either a flexible in-person, hybrid or distance learning model, or enroll their students into a one-year program called Shakopee Online.

The announcement came after the state came out with guidelines for school districts, which ultimately left the decision up to districts to choose a plan for the fall based on local COVID-19 data.

Here are the two options the school district is offering to families.

State's framework

In-person, hybrid or distance learning — or what the district is calling IHD — is the first option. IHD would be a fluid option that could fluctuate between in-person, hybrid and distance learning depending on the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scott County, the district said.

The new state guidelines have been used as a framework to develop the IHD option, the district said.

Here are the recommendations the state offered for the reopening of schools based on the new virus cases per 10,000 people in the county:

  • 0 to 9 new cases per 10,000: In-person learning for all students.
  • 10 to 19 new cases per 10,000: In-person learning for elementary, hybrid for secondary.
  • 20 to 29 new cases per 10,000: Hybrid learning for all students.
  • 20 to 39 new cases per 10,000: Hybrid learning for elementary, distance for secondary.
  • 40 to 49 new cases per 10,000: Distance learning for all age levels.

Scott County currently has about 21 new COVID-19 cases per 10,000 people, meaning if the district followed the state’s recommendations, students under the IHD schooling would currently be operating under the hybrid learning model.

But that model will likely change throughout the year based on the most recent virus data in Scott County.

When the district is operating under the “hybrid” portion of IHD, the schools will enact “social distancing, face masks, modified class schedules and lunch periods to limit contact, changes in hallway travel routes, increased fresh air exchange, enhanced cleaning and disinfection and plexiglass barriers,” the district said.

With hybrid learning, students would rotate between attending school and distance learning every-other day on a rotation. All children in the same family would be placed on the same rotation schedule.

Elementary schools would begin one hour later than their normal start times to minimize the number of student transitions throughout the day.

The middle school schedule has been altered from a seven-period day to a four-period day, or block schedule, to limit the interactions of different student groups each day.

Kindergarten students will attend on site every day, and other students such as English learners and special education students will be allowed to attend in-person under hybrid learning.

While in hybrid learning, most in-person classrooms will support no more than 16 students.

If Shakopee Public Schools moves to the “distance learning” phase of IHD, students would receive daily, live interaction with their teachers and classmates, with additional support available to students who need it.

A move to the in-person learning phase of IHD would rely on health and safety guidelines at the time and may be modified based on the state of the pandemic, the district said.

Online learning

Students who choose online learning would work with “as many staff as possible” and operate on their own schedule to complete their coursework. Many of the courses would be taught by Shakopee teachers who would solely serve the online students, and live instruction with interactive feedback would be employed whenever possible, the district said.

According to the plan, course offerings for online learning would be robust, but not necessarily the same as the offerings available for the IHD learning option. Support services for students who need it — such as English Learners and Special Education — would be available through online learning.

Families with multiple students would be able to make a different choice for each child based on their needs.

Families who choose the IHD option will be asked to choose bus transportation and child care interest.

Parents have until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5 to decide which route their children should take. The decisions would be for the entire 2020-2021 school year. 

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.

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