(Alexandria, MN) On November 17th Alexandria Public School (APS) Superintendent Rick Sansted wrote a letter to families within the district announcing changes to the elementary learning model.
In it Sansted says that it was over a week ago that APS made the decision to shift grades 7-12 learners to a distance learning model. Although the School District has put forth our best effort to keep our COVID-19 cases low, the case count in Douglas County continues to rise. Sansted says, "While analyzing the trending results from numerous COVID-19 related data sources and the inability to maintain acceptable staffing levels within our building, we have made the decision to transition to full distance learning for students in our early learning programs through sixth grade. Know that this decision was not made lightly."
The following factors are guiding the decision:
- The volume of staff who are in quarantine from close contact or pending test results, is creating challenges with our ability to staff and to even operate our schools.
- The number of students and staff testing positive is increasing;
- The case count in Douglas County continues to rise. The data in the community and within our school buildings, has increased our concern for the safety of our staff and students within an in-person learning model environment.
Sansted spoke with VOA's Joe Korkowski on Wednesday morning about the decision (AUDIO BELOW):
The following is directly from the letter and includes much of the detail in the district's plan.
NO SCHOOL, Monday, Nov 23 for PreK-5
Monday, November 23 will be teacher planning and preparation day with No School PreK through Grade 5 students in attendance, either on-site or virtually. Grade 6-12 will be in full distance learning on Monday, November 23.
Distance learning will begin for all students PreK through Grade 5 on Tuesday, November 24. More information about schedules during the distance learning period will be coming from the early education center and/or elementary schools that your child/ren attend.
Childcare: Alexandria Public Schools will offer a fee based, optional childcare program (6:30am-5:30pm) with academic support to families on non school days and during Distance Learning. Childcare is free if ALL parents/legal guardians in the child's household are workers in the MN Department of Education's defined Tier 1 category. Online Pre Registration is required. 762-3310, ext. 1.
Special Education Services: Students who receive Special Education services will continue to receive those services as outlined in their Contingency Learning Plan (CLP), which is a part of their Individual Education Plan (IEP). These services are designed to continue to provide each student with the opportunity to continue to access their education and special education services through a distance learning model. If you have questions regarding your child's Contingency Learning Plan (CLP), please contact your child's case manager. Additional information regarding specialized services during distance learning will be communicated to families by the case manager or program.
Special Education evaluations will continue even during this time of distance learning. Parents/guardians will be notified by their student's case manager regarding how the evaluation will continue and be completed as outlined in the student's Evaluation Plan. Evaluation meetings and IEP team meetings will be completed virtually during this time of distance learning.
Technology: Each student has been provided a district-issued Chromebook for use during this distance learning period. Students in grades 6-12 will use Google Meet, Schoology & Google Drive as their primary instructional tools on their district-issued device to access their assignments during distance learning. Students in grades PreK-5 will use Google Meet and SeeSaw as their primary instructional tools on their district issued device to access their assignments during distance learning. Please refer to our district technology website for further information, troubleshooting tips and/or technical support information @ www.alexschools.org/technology
Food & Nutrition Services:
Elementary Student Families:
• Breakfast and lunch meals will be sent home with your student on Friday, November 20th.
• You will have the option to pick up meals for days off during the Holiday break. Pick up meals will be available Nov. 25 from 12-1pm at your student's school, main entrance.
• Please watch your email for a meal sign-up that will be coming in the next day for meals to be delivered daily to your home.
Secondary Student Families:
- Please watch for communication on continued meal delivery.
Activities and Athletics:
Activities and athletics will continue at the secondary level until we receive additional guidance from the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).
Even during distance learning, please continue to utilize our COVID Information Center, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 762-3345 for support. This will help us monitor conditions and help inform our decisions about returning students to school.
No School Monday, November 30 for PreK-12 Students
As a friendly reminder, Monday, November 30 is a no school day for all PreK-12 students as our PreK-12 staff have a planned professional development day.
Update on Learning Models
Given our current staffing challenges and the community impact of Covid-19, all students will remain in distance learning through Friday, December 4. We will reevaluate next week our COVID data points, gather input from our COVID Advisory Team, and communicate out before Thanksgiving about school schedules for the period of December 7-22.