Dear MPS families,
I'd like to share with you how MPS plans to respond to Governor Walz's order in late December to have all elementary students - grades PreK-5 - return to in-person learning.
My recommendation to the Board of Education at our regular board meeting next Tuesday will be that we offer elementary families two options: to remain in distance learning or to return to in-person classroom instruction five days per week.
The plan, barring any health and safety factors that would prevent it, will be to bring elementary staff back on Feb. 1 and begin with PreK-Grade 2 students returning the week of February 8. The next cohort of Grade 3-5 students will return two weeks later on February 22. Secondary students will remain in distance learning.Families of students in grades PreK-5 will receive additional information on how to register for in-person or distance learning later today.
We did not come to this decision lightly and it is not set in stone. If things take a turn for the worse, we will reassess.
Because I understand the concerns some people have about returning to the classroom, I have continued to have conversations with Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Department of Health leaders regarding the rationale and science behind the Governor's order. I have met with our regional support team, which includes state and City of Minneapolis health officials, to better understand both our rates and the public health implications of any decisions we make. I'm in contact with colleagues both locally and nationally who have had experience with hybrid and full in-person learning this school year to understand what worked and what didn't from their vantage points.
Ultimately, we know that while it's good to learn from the experiences of others we have to do what we think is best for our families and our staff.
All along I have stated that we are trying to balance two equally important values throughout this pandemic: the health and safety of staff and students and the need to provide students with an educational experience that will lay an academic foundation for their future success.
Throughout we have erred on the side of health and safety and I absolutely think that is the right thing to have done. But with rates declining in Minneapolis, it is appropriate that we begin to think about and offer a dual path forward.
Many of our youngest learners are suffering in distance learning. Not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well. And there are long-term consequences for them should they not have an opportunity to choose an in-person learning option. The longer some students remain in distance learning, the more difficult it will be for them to ever catch up and regain the almost one full year of learning that they have lost.
And so, I am going to recommend moving forward with a plan to meet the governor's order.
I believe we have done all that we can to put in proper health and safety protocols for both staff and students. We are grateful to the more than 1,000 staff members who have kept our district operating in person since this pandemic first closed our doors. And again, we will be providing families with the information they need to make the choice they believe is best for their family.
You can find more information about health, safety and other important items on our website, where we've also posted frequently asked questions.
It's time to allow informed choice by the people who know their families and their children best. Thank you for choosing Minneapolis Public Schools.