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Update 27: Learning, programming and health/safety updates

(01/08/2021) Thank you for your continued support of our schools as the district begins a phased approach to returning to in-person learning over the weeks and months ahead. 


This update includes: 

  • Learning updates for district preschools and elementary schools.
  • Online elementary to be offered fall 2021. 
  • Work underway to return middle and high schools to in-person learning.
  • Distance learning an option to replace weather-related closures. 
  • Community Education to resume recreational activities, aquatic programs.

Make sure to check out the frequently asked questions area of the COVID-19 website as an additional resource. 


Learning updates for district preschools and elementary schools

Kindergarten through grade two students (K-2 hybrid) are returning to full-time in-person learning, five days a week on Tuesday, Jan. 19. District instructional and support staff will utilize Thursday, Jan. 14 and Friday, Jan. 15 for planning so there will be no school for all elementary students, including students who will continue with the distance learning model. See the updated calendar


As a reminder, this full-time in-person learning transition only applies to K-2 students that selected the hybrid learning format for trimester two. Families that prefer to change from in-person learning to distance learning are asked to notify their school by the end of the day (Friday, Jan. 8). A note, elementary students that chose distance learning for trimester two will remain in that format for the second trimester, through Friday, March 12. Parents/guardians who have questions or want to request changes between learning models should contact their school directly.      


Health and safety measures will remain in effect for the full in-person learning format, however, there are some important differences between hybrid and full in-person: 

  • Students will attend school five days a week. 
  • Classroom capacity limits do not apply. Elementary students will be in school at the same time and buses will run at full capacity.
  • Every effort will be made to maintain physical distancing to the extent possible. Updated recommendations for in-person elementary learning encourages a minimum of three feet of separation. 
  • Clear barriers may be present between students and teachers in individual or small group instruction settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained. 
  • Staff will be wearing face coverings. Face shields may also be utilized (not required). This is a change from the Dec. 18 communication based on updated guidance in the MN Safe Learning Plan
  • Students will continue to wear face coverings and also wear them for indoor physical activity. 
  • Specialist lessons, e.g. art, explorations, may take place in each student’s home classroom or in the specialist room. Physical education, however, will continue outside of a student’s classroom or if weather permits, outside the building. 
  • Every other week, school employees will have the opportunity to take a COVID-19 test. 
  • The district installed fresh all filters in building HVAC systems over the winter break and will change them again over spring break. 
  • Bipolar ionization systems are now present in all Anoka-Hennepin owned school facilities to eliminate the COVID-19 virus in buildings and further improve air quality. This system essentially removes 99.4% of COVID-19 and other viruses in buildings, if it should be present. Take a look at bipolar ionization at Anoka-Hennepin through this video

Guidance in the MN Safe Learning Plan continues to be revised. Please remain alert to updates and continue to check the frequently asked questions area of the COVID-19 website for more information. 


Should COVID-19 cases rise in a school amongst staff or students, Anoka-Hennepin will rely on a pre-established protocol for disease outbreaks, similar to the seasonal flu, along with input from the Minnesota Department of Health, to determine if a brief transition back to distance learning is needed. 


Students in grades three through five (3-5) are scheduled to return to in-person learning on Monday, Feb. 1.


Special education setting three and four students will begin to return to in-person learning with a gradual phase in plan. The first phase of students returning will begin Jan. 19, depending on grade level and intensity of need. This includes early childhood special education (ECSE) and transition (Bridges, Jan. 19 and Pathways, Feb. 1). Additional details were shared with special education families late December. 


Preschool and Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) students will be able to return to school Tuesday, Jan. 19, with students attending their traditionally scheduled class days. (The program will no longer follow a hybrid schedule.)


Updated bus schedules will be available starting Thursday, Jan. 14 on the My Student Information application via A-HConnect. Small changes are expected for some families with the change in bus capacity limits.  


Meals will continue to be served to students in distance learning. Please note that the process for picking up distance learning meals changed on Jan. 4. Refer to the COVID-19 website for details. All meals will continue to be free until federal funding is exhausted.   


Before- and after-school child care is available at all elementary schools. Adventures Plus is now accepting registrations for the remainder of the school year. Space is available at all elementary schools. Learn more.


Online elementary to be offered fall 2021

For those students and families who want to continue online learning at the elementary level next year, Anoka-Hennepin is developing a formal online elementary school which is set to begin operations in the fall of 2021. Program details, information sessions and applications for the school will be available this spring as plans are finalized. 


Approval of the online elementary follows a detailed application process which is aligned with International Online Association for K-12 Learning (INACOL) standards and coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Education. The school will offer the Anoka-Hennepin curriculum, provide student support services and follow district policies for in-district transfers, open enrollment and student performance standards. Computers will be provided to students who need them and learning will be supported by an enhanced technology platform.  


Anoka-Hennepin is an experienced online learning provider. The district currently operates comprehensive online learning options with the STEPAhead Online High School and COMPASS Online programs. Research to determine additional online program offerings at the middle and high school levels is under consideration.   

 

Families interested in exploring the online elementary for next school year should remain alert for additional information provided as soon as April of this year. The online elementary is set to begin in the 2021-22 school year and become an ongoing learning option. Please email info@ahschools.us with any questions or requests for additional information. 


Work underway to return middle and high schools to in-person learning

Anoka-Hennepin is working with the Minnesota departments of education and health on a phased approach to bringing middle and high school students back to in-person learning with the goal of returning students as soon as allowed. This means select grade levels would return to school with more and more returning over time. Likely, middle and high school students will restart in the hybrid learning model. Such a transition would only apply to students who selected the hybrid learning format for trimester two. Those that chose distance learning would remain in that format until the end of trimester two, Friday, March 12. Once the district has confirmed this plan it will be communicated widely via an email and website update.   


Special education setting three and four students will begin to return to in-person learning with a gradual phase in plan. The first phase of students returning will begin Jan. 19, depending on grade level and intensity of need. This includes early childhood special education (ECSE) and transition (Bridges, Jan. 19 and Pathways, Feb. 1). Additional details were shared with special education families late December. 


A few notes on the hybrid and distance learning models: 

  • On-site academic support may be available in school buildings. Parents/guardians or students can review available options and determine a plan for support by contacting their school counselor directly.   
  • Mental health and social-emotional support is available. Students benefit from a system of mental health and social-emotional support. School social workers, school counselors, mental health therapists and other caring adults are trained and available to provide support. Parents/guardians and students should contact their school social workers and/or school counselors to review options.  
  • Meals will continue to be served to students in distance learning. Please note that the process for picking up distance learning meals changed on Jan. 4. Refer to the COVID-19 website for details. All meals will continue to be free until federal funding is exhausted.   

Distance learning an option to replace weather-related closures

When snow or cold weather limits the ability to provide student transportation and staff travel to and from school, the learning in Anoka-Hennepin Schools may continue through distance learning. This could include all students E-12, including special education. Communication about these decisions will happen similar to how school closure information was shared in the past. As weather events are predicted, students, staff, and parents will receive advanced notice in order to ensure appropriate supplies are brought home to allow remote learning.  

 

The Adventures Plus school age care program will be closed for such an event. 

 

Decisions about facility rentals and activities and athletics will be made based on the circumstances of the day and will be communicated by the district at that time using the district website, social media, email and media outlets. 

 

This option has become a possibility as students and staff have experience connecting through technology with the distance learning model. 

 

For answers to frequently asked questions on winter weather and school closures, please visit ahschools.us/weather


Community Education to resume recreational activities, aquatic programs

Anoka-Hennepin Community Education will resume recreational activities for youth, including aquatic programming at Roosevelt Community Pool. Community Education has continued to offer a variety of in-person enrichment opportunities for people of all ages and abilities this school year following health and safety guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and MDE. Read more, browse programs and register online.