Update 22: Elementary schools to transition to distance learning Nov. 30; no school for elementary students Nov. 23-24
(11/13/2020) Anoka-Hennepin Schools will transition district elementary schools to the distance learning model starting Monday, Nov. 30. COVID-19 cases are above the state-recommended guidelines for having elementary students in person and the current trend shows a rapid escalation in both Anoka and Hennepin counties. In addition, this action follows a growing number of school employees and contractors being directly impacted by COVID-19 isolation and quarantine. Looking at the weeks ahead, Monday, Nov. 23 and Tuesday, Nov. 24 will instead be preparation days for the elementary transition, no classes will be held. School will not be held on Nov. 25-27 also, following the original schedule. There are no changes to the middle and high school schedule with this announcement.
This news is understandably challenging for elementary hybrid learning families, and not a change Anoka-Hennepin was hoping to make. Please know, health and safety of students, staff and the community remain at the forefront of our decision making.
The MN Safe Learning Plan directs schools to consider distance learning at the elementary level when the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases exceeds 50 per 10,000 within the county (or counties). Anoka-Hennepin middle and high school students transitioned to distance learning Nov. 4 amid the 30 per 10,000 recommendation. Local data is also a consideration the state recommends, and local district data shows that confirmed employee COVID-19 cases exceed 50 per 10,000. Review both county and school information on the Anoka-Hennepin COVID-19 Data Tracker.
The school district recently charged a COVID-19 Data Advisory Committee with reviewing state, county and local data to make recommendations in this area. Unfortunately, with the current county data significantly above the recommended amounts for in-person learning, and staffing issues across the district, Anoka-Hennepin couldn’t wait for the committee to create a model that used primarily local data. During this timeframe, many neighboring districts will be making similar transitions using the same rationale. The committee plans to continue to meet and analyze local, county and state information, and when warranted, discuss the possibility of safely moving back to in-person learning, Anoka-Hennepin’s main goal.
The district is prioritizing options to bring select students back for in-person learning during the time that schools are in distance learning. This could include bringing middle and high school students that struggle with distance learning back into school as soon as early December. In addition, the district is considering options to bring preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade students back into school, possibly before other students would be allowed back in person through the hybrid model. An update on these options will be provided in December.
Early childhood special education (ECSE) and elementary school hybrid students who receive special education services attending River Trail Learning Centers, or receiving services in DCD, LAUNCH and EBD center-based programs may continue to attend on their Cohort A or B day. ECSE center-based programs may continue to attend one day per week. Students eligible for Day C support will attend on Mondays as designated on the district calendar.
Middle and high school hybrid students who receive special education services attending River Trail Learning Centers, Bridges and Pathways or receive services in DCD, LAUNCH, and EBD setting III programs may continue to attend on their Cohort A or B day. Students eligible for Day C support will attend on Mondays as designated on the district calendar.
Our child care staff are working to continue serving students of Tier 1 critical workers. Families currently receiving child care on their hybrid distance learning days will receive an email update from the child care program. Families needing child care as the school district transitions to the distance learning model may apply for the district child care program beginning Friday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m., if all or both parent/guardian’s occupations fall into a Tier I critical worker category (per Executive Order 20-94, updated Nov. 5, 2020). Registration will close at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17. View details about the District Emergency Care program, and apply online at ahschools.us/DistrictEmergencyCare.
Meals will continue to be provided during distance learning. Please visit the child nutrition website for instructions on how to order. A note, families that already placed orders under hybrid learning meals for any weeks after next week, should cancel and place new orders under the distance learning area instead. All meals are now free for students until the end of the school year, June 10, or until funding is exhausted.
Middle and high school activities and athletics are still being managed on a case-by-case basis. These voluntary options for students are offered under the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Education and with the assumption that at any point, COVID-19 related illness or quarantine could cause the activity to go virtual for a period of time, as has been happening throughout the fall.
Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and Preschool programs will transition to distance learning with elementary schools. Participants enrolled in those programs will receive an email update from ECFE/Preschool with details related to their specific classes in the coming days.
This decision also suggests that trimester two will start in distance learning for all students preschool through grade 12, unless there is a significant drop in county level cases or other data or guidance is available that suggests otherwise. Another communication will be sent by Nov. 24 about trimester two learning models.
Please continue to follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommendations as an effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and get students back to school in person:
- Wear a face covering following CDC and MDH recommendations.
- Practice social distancing guidelines, and stay home when you are sick.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you cannot wash your hands, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough into the inside of the elbow. Dispose of tissues immediately. Wash hands afterwards.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces.
Every effort will be made to make this change go as smoothly as possible. Thank you for your understanding and support as schools take the steps necessary to protect the health and safety of students, employees and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.