On July 31, Governor Tim Walz, 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. Now that we have the governor’s recommendations, we are putting the finishing touches on our back-to-school plan. Here is a summary of what was shared and how this informs our decision making around safely educating your student(s).
Prior to the release of this information, school districts across the state were asked to prepare for three learning models for the 2020-21 school year: distance learning, hybrid learning (a combination of in-person and distance), and in-person learning. The Safe Learning Plan presented yesterday contains a data dashboard that provides local health information to help us determine which model to implement. Every 14 days, we will be given updated data on the COVID-19 impact in our community. If the data changes, we may need to adjust or pivot toward a different learning model. Hopkins will work in consultation with local medical officials as well as a Regional Support Team to make real-time, science-based decisions.
Based on guidance from the governor, the learning model we will use to open the school year will be based on data released on August 20. However, we anticipate that Hopkins will begin the school year in a hybrid learning model with a distance learning component. MDE defines a hybrid learning model as operating at 50 percent maximum occupancy with a number of strict health and safety measures in place in accordance with MDH guidelines. In Hopkins, a team of teachers and leaders have been discussing and planning hybrid models at length. If we return to school under this learning model, we will lean toward increased in-person learning for our youngest students and provide flipped learning experiences for secondary students. A flipped classroom is a type of blended learning where students are introduced to content at home and practice working through it at school. This is new for all of us and we will host virtual sessions in the weeks to come to help explain our thinking to families.
Distance Learning Option
Regardless of how we are advised to begin the school year, we know some families will prefer a full-time Distance Learning experience for their child(ren). Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan, as released yesterday, requires districts to offer a full-time Distance Learning option to families. We have been planning for this throughout the spring and summer. If you know right now that Distance Learning will be your preference for this school year, we ask you to complete this Request for Information form. Please complete and submit no later than Friday, August 7. Please know that filling out the form does not commit you to Distance Learning. We understand you may need more information before you are able to make a final choice. However, for planning purposes, we would like to get an early read on your interest in this learning model, so we can plan for staffing. For families who make this their final choice, we will likely ask for a minimum half-year commitment.
School Board Workshop, Thursday, August 6, 2020 from 5 - 7 p.m.
The Hopkins School Board will hold a workshop on Thursday, Aug. 6 from 5-7 p.m. to hear a presentation on and discuss current thinking behind the hybrid and distance learning models that have been designed by over 100 Hopkins staff and students working on 5 different task forces this summer. (Hopkins Schools is not considering full-time in-person learning at this time.) This will be an informational workshop, which means the Board will not be taking formal action on Thursday. The workshop will be virtual and streamed on our district YouTube channel for community accessibility. The School Board Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the same link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y32z5b76s-w
Social Emotional Needs are a Key Priority
Regardless of what school looks like, district and school staff are committed to supporting students’ social emotional wellness and offering resources to ensure as smooth of a back-to-school transition as possible. Supportsinclude social-emotional learning, a priority on building relationships, community-building activities, increased access to mental health/wellness services, and the creation of self-care plans for students and staff. Staff members will receive on-going professional development on social-emotional learning.Families and schools will work together to continuously assess how students are feeling in order to gauge individual needs for personalized support.
Building an Anti-Racist Organization
We also recognize the specific socioemotional needs of our black and brown students during this time in our nation’s history. While institutionalized racism has existed for centuries, we have been impacted deeply by recent and widespread civil unrest. Many of us have experienced a heightened awareness of how oppression and privilege show up daily. Staff and students on the Wellness Task Force developed a comprehensive set of wellness recommendations for our district’s consideration. The foundational principle driving the plan was that it is essential to simultaneously consider the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism as we design and facilitate high quality student and staff experiences. We strive to evolve into a truly anti-racist organization. We seek to meet the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students of color as well as staff of color. We will do this through explicit acknowledgement, affinity group opportunities, and growing our racial consciousness, love and empathy.
Due to COVID-19 and recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd, Hopkins Public Schools like to continue to make resources available to our students and families to help get through this difficult time. If you are in need of support over the summer, please visit The Loop for information on district and community resources. If you would like to talk to someone directly, please reach out to our summer support staff for any non-emergency and the support staff will return your message within 1 business day. This can be done by leaving a voicemail message at 952-988-5119 or by completing this form.