Nov. 4 learning model transition: Answers to commonly asked questions and concerns
Anoka-Hennepin Schools announced a learning format transition for middle and high school students starting Nov. 4 as schools move from the hybrid learning model to distance learning. The change will be in place through the end of the first trimester, Friday, Dec. 4. Elementary schools will remain in the hybrid model.
With the announcement came additional questions from community members which are addressed through the Q and A below.
If you have a question you would like added to this list, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Review additional information on the Anoka-Hennepin return to school plan online at ahschools.us/COVID-19.
Why do elementary students not attend school on Nov. 2?
The decision to cancel instruction for elementary students on Nov. 2 allows for planning decisions regarding transfer of staff from middle and high schools impacted by the distance learning transition to support any needs at the elementary level in the hybrid model.
The decision also allows time and support for hybrid lesson planning for elementary teachers, which has been an emerging concern for the district.
The calendar will reflect one less learning day for Cohort A students with this decision.
Is there a reason why the district is waiting until Nov 4.?
The decision to transition to distance learning was made in consultation with state public health officials who understand that schools need time to make an effective change. In addition, many parents/guardians have asked for lead time in order to make arrangements for their students who will now be out of the classroom five days a week. The Anoka-Hennepin calendar has two-additional school days in the hybrid model for middle and high school students prior to the transition. With Nov. 3 already being a no-contact day for students, the district needed to provide additional time for schools to prepare for the transition.
Why did the district cancel activities?
The decision to cancel co-curricular athletics and activities is based on state guidance and is not a School Board decision.
Schools in the Anoka-Hennepin School District are required to follow health and safety guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). This guidance directs that middle and high school programs transition to distance learning when the county-level data of confirmed cases of COVID-19 exceeds 30 cases per 10,000. This same guidance directs that school athletics and activities are only allowed in a virtual format during this time. Games and practices in-person are not allowed. The reasoning is that activities are an extension of the educational program and follow the same guidelines for health and safety.
Why did this happen now?
The MDH provides school districts with county-level health data updates each Thursday. The Oct. 22 report - covering a 14-day period from Sept. 27 to Oct. 10 - reported Anoka County over the threshold at 33.16. Public health officials anticipate that COVID-19 cases will continue to grow over the next several weeks leading to the distance learning model requirement for middle and high school students.
It’s understood that this decision emerged suddenly and has caused concern and confusion. The district will continue to seek information from the MDE and the MSHSL regarding co-curriculars during distance learning. If there are options for our students to participate while in distance learning, our School Board will consider those options.
When can activities resume?
Should cases of confirmed COVID-19 drop below the thresholds, the guidelines allow activities to resume. This means that the school could remain in distance learning and offer activities should the number of cases drop below 30 per 10,000.
Why do I see other schools competing and our schools are not?
Anoka-Hennepin is following guidance from the state agencies and MSHSL and is not in a position to comment regarding decisions made by other schools. Based on conversations with several other districts, it’s likely that many more districts will be transitioning to distance learning in the near future and in turn will need to move co-curriculars to the virtual format. State guidance does allow schools to participate if their public health data is below 30 cases per 10,000 and they’re operating in distance learning (e.g. St. Paul).
What about refunds for activities?
The district is reviewing partial refunds for fall activities impacted and will be sharing that information as soon as it is available.
What about the winter sports season?
Anoka-Hennepin is operating in the distance learning model through the end of the first trimester, Friday, Dec. 4. Following the MSHSL guidance:
- If county level data supports athletics prior to Dec. 4, the district will bring co-curriculars back in-person as appropriate.
- Programs only are required to meet virtually if the district is required to remain in distance learning.
- The district is currently preparing additional communication and guidance regarding winter activities participation and will be sharing with student athletes and families through schools, program coaches and advisors directly.