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RPS News

Planning for the 2020-21 School Year

Dear Richfield Families, Staff and Community,

During the week of July 27, as many of you know, Governor Walz will be announcing his plans for Minnesota schools. The three possible options are:

  1. Returning to the classroom for in-person learning
  2. Distance learning
  3. A combination of classroom and distance learning

Throughout the summer, our collaborative planning team is planning for all of the different possible options for what school might look like under these three scenarios. Together, we are working to ensure our students will receive a quality, engaging learning experience, while protecting the safety of all students, families and staff.

Planning Teams

To ensure our back-to-school plans are as strong as possible, we have a core planning team that consists of management team members, teachers and staff from all bargaining units. This team exchanges the most up-to-date information and guides the work of smaller planning teams. There are over fifteen smaller planning teams with representation across all levels of our organization who are working on the instructional and operational tasks associated with the three possible back-to-school options, which include refining and improving the distance learning model and addressing logistics such as transportation, meals and sanitizing classrooms. Draft plans will be brought to students and families for added input and participation in the planning prior to finalizing any back-to-school plans. 

A Focus on Learning

We received valuable feedback from 2,410 students and families this spring about the distance learning experience. While there were successes, we also learned that there was plenty of room for growth. In the event that some or all of our instruction needs to be remote, we are upping our game when it comes to online learning. You can expect more student contact, some live online classes or instruction, as well as more engaging content for students.

Safety is a Top Priority

In the event that students and staff return to buildings this fall, we are working to reconfigure classrooms, enhance our cleaning practices, practice social distancing and implement additional student and staff guidelines to protect everyone’s health. If this is the scenario we will be given, you can expect to hear a lot more about these safety measures in future emails.

Transportation

In the event that students return to the classroom, one of the biggest challenges we will face is bussing. Based on current CDC guidelines, to safely transport students on a school bus with social distancing (one student per row), we can fit approximately 13 students on a bus at one time. That means that schools would need multiple rounds of bussing to transport every child to school safely, which is simply not feasible. We are researching other options like expanding walk zones and working with our Safe Routes to School coordinator to improve walking and biking options for students. We are also reviewing start times to determine if alterations to the school day will help with transportation logistics.

Quick poll: If the Minnesota Department of Education reopens schools and your child/children would normally take the school bus, how likely are you to use the school bus in 2020-21?

Transportation Poll

What’s Next?

We know that as a family, not knowing what’s ahead is stressful. We can assure you that we are doing everything we can to enhance the student experience while ensuring everyone’s safety. Not just this fall, but during summer school, athletics practices and in our Community Education programs.

As soon as the Minnesota Department of Education and the Governor announce what schools can do this fall, we will launch a survey asking our staff and families about preferences within the framework we are given and we will work quickly to finalize and communicate the next steps to everyone. As soon as we know what back-to-school will look like, we will let you know.

As always, have a safe and healthy summer. We look forward to seeing our students and staff soon–one way or another. 

Sincerely,

Superintendent Steven Unowsky
 

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