Dear Central Schools Families,
Last week I gave you a brief situation report about the increase in COVID related cases in staff and students the past two weeks. I said I would give you another update today after I met with the COVID Regional Support Team assigned to Central Public Schools to get specific public health guidance for our district.
It is recommended by Public Health that Central Schools conduct a “reset” over the next several weeks to allow the current levels of infection to run its course and to allow asymptomatic people to quarantine. There is also strong thinking that human behavior (gathering for Thanksgiving and the holidays in December) is likely to further exacerbate the situation in our schools.
Beginning November 18, 2020, Central Schools will be in distance learning until January 4, 2021.
During this time, I will continue to monitor the situation. It was recommended that Central Schools stay in distance learning for 2 weeks past New Years Day because of the likelihood of family travel and get-togethers. We will monitor that situation as we get closer to the end of the distance learning period and make a decision at that time.
Schedule for November - January - details will be communicated by building principals
TODAY November 12 - last day of in-person/hybrid learning for all students P-12
November 13-17 - transition days (no student classes...required to give transition days per Gov. Walz executive order)
November 18-December 22 - Distance Learning for all students
December 23 - transition day (no student classes...required to give transition days per Gov. Walz executive order)
December 27 - Mr. Schochenmaier consults with regional support team and communicates to parents
*January 4, 2021 - Tentative return date back to hybrid model
I’m just going to level with you. I don’t know if this decision is the right one or if it is just kicking the can down the road. I do think there is a difference between being safe and being healthy. Our kids need to be in school in order to be healthy. I recognize that there is no scenario in which we can select a learning model that will meet the needs of everyone. Attempting to balance the educational needs of our students with health and safety concerns has proven to be a significant challenge for all school districts, including ours. This entire situation is frustrating for everyone, and I look forward to a time when all of our students can return to school in person and every day. In the meantime, I thank you again for your understanding and partnership.
Please, take a moment to read the following FAQs for specific programs and activities.
Distance Learning FAQs
What will my child’s day look like while in distance learning?
Elementary School (K-5)
The biggest change will be at the elementary school. Mr. Daugs is working with his staff and he will be communicating directly with parents at the elementary school early next week.
Middle and High School Buildings (Grades 6-12)
As we move into full time distance learning, your child’s school day in the middle and high school buildings will not look much different than it has during this hybrid period as students have learned from home. The difference being that now all students will be attending their classes virtually from home. Students will continue to attend their scheduled classes by marking themselves present in Infinite Campus and logging into their required Google Meets and Google Classroom each period, with the exception of study halls.
Will Kids Company still be open?
Kids Co will be open during the distance learning period for Tier 1 workers per Gov. Walz’s order (starting Monday, Nov. 16). There will be a limited number of additional spaces available with preference going to current Kids Co users and then to families who will start with Kids Co (starting Monday, Nov. 23). Contact Julie at 952-467-7391 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I count on the district for lunch and breakfast, how will my child get their meals during the distance learning period?
We will be bundling meals for all 7 days and make them available for pick up on Monday mornings and Thursday mornings from 7:00-9:30 a.m. These meals will include both breakfast and lunch. The first pick up day will be Monday, November 16th at the high school kitchen loading dock. This has a #11 on the door. To get a better idea of how many students we need to bundle for, you need to email Chantelle Eshleman, Food Service Director, at email@example.com if you are interested in the meals. Please email by tomorrow, November 13th, to sign up. If you have already signed up and are getting the bundled meals, you do not need to sign up again. If you were signed up for the bag lunches for hybrid, that schedule will not start up again until students are back in school. But if you want your student to get the meals for the full week, you would need to communicate that as well. Also, when picking up the meals on Monday and Thursday mornings, please call Chantelle at 952-200-4968, to let her know you are there and then food service can bring the meals right out to the loading dock.
What happens with activities and athletics?
Sports and activities are going to continue as normal for “C”, “B” and varsity school athletics/activities unless we have positive COVID-19 cases on the team. We are still evaluating the viability of middle school basketball or if we need to postpone the start date. We will be reaching out to other area/conference schools to explore a common solution. As of today, Central has had more than a dozen contests postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 on other teams. For example, our middle school volleyball team was one of two teams left playing in the entire conference at the end of the season. From the District’s perspective, this is a combination of good planning and a little bit of luck. Up to this point we have not had any COVID cases on any of our teams that we are aware of. Until this happens, our local data would tell us we can continue as is. Central believes this approach keeps athletes safe and healthy.
How is it that students can come to the building for practice or games but not for school?
The MN State High School League (MSHSL), the governing body of high school athletics and activities came out with guidelines a few weeks ago in partnership with MDH. They stated that if local data allows you to let your teams play, you should. Moreover, currently students MS and HS involved in activities are exposed to 6 “pods of students” during their classes and then the “pod” on their team. Moving to distance learning only exposes these same students to one “pod”. Again, Central has been very fortunate to have been only on the receiving end of cancelled games, but it is plausible that at some point an entire Central team will have to be on quarantine for an extended period of time.
My child is on an IEP, what does this mean for them?
Your child’s IEP team met this fall and proposed a Contingency Learning Plan if the District were to move to a distance learning model. This plan will be reviewed to ensure that it will meet the needs of your child, taking into consideration their current progress in the curriculum and on their IEP goals. You will be contacted by your child’s case manager if they would like to propose changes to the Contingency Learning Plan. Please review your child’s Contingency Learning Plan as it will explain how your child will participate and work on their IEP goals and objectives. All families will be contacted by the case managers to schedule virtual meetings and/or material distribution.
What are these transition days in the schedule?
In Gov. Walz’s executive order 20-96, requires school districts to provide transition days for teachers when a district is changing learning models. This order had a direct impact on the decision making process to come back before winter break. We do not want to have a greater than normal amount of student time lost because of this requirement. This was one of the factors in choosing Jan. 4 as our tentative return date.
Where are the elementary chromebooks the district ordered?
Central Schools ordered 400 chromebooks for elementary students on July 15, 2020 when we were planning for the school year. The anticipated delivery date at the time was Oct. 1, 2020. That date has been pushed back several times because of a supply shortage. We will get them in the hands of your children as soon as they arrive.
I need help with internet connectivity, what can I do?
Contact your building principal to get assigned a hot spot for connectivity.
Do we still have conferences?
Yes, all conferences will still happen virtually as planned. If you have any questions, contact your school’s main office.
What is causing the staff shortage and why wasn’t the District prepared for it?
The MDH decision making tree, which is based on incubation periods of COVID-19, is causing the shortage. If staff and students are considered a “close contact” to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 they are required to quarantine for 14 days. Many times, these same people have not tested positive themselves while in quarantine. The net result is staff and students needing to quarantine multiple times which, though the right thing to do, can be frustrating to the staff member or family and put a burden on Central’s already thin sub pool.
Central hired three “full time subs” to float throughout the district in anticipation of staff absences this year. Moreover, people who typically sub for us (retired teachers) are choosing not to due to the uncertainty of their own personal health.
In the 11.11.2020 email Mr. Schochenmaier stated the “District is seriously reevaluating its plan.” What does that mean?
District administrators, the Regional Support Team, and staff will be meeting during the distance learning period to look at ways to lessen the likelihood of additional “resets” and to leverage time for students who are struggling in our current model. We will dialogue with surrounding districts and consider alternatives that others have found to have a positive impact on student learning and COVID-19 cases.
Do I need to continue reporting symptoms, test results for COVID-19, or close contacts?
During this distance learning time, it is still just as important to continue to notify the school health office of symptom monitoring at home, positive COVID-19 test results, and close contacts of those who have tested positive for COVID-19. We are asking families to be transparent with us. Tracking the spread of COVID-19 is still important during this time, as it can influence activities, sports, and our return to school in the new year.
Reporting of this information can be sent to the school nurse Meagan Bixby: firstname.lastname@example.org / 952-467-7110