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      Thoughts on Gov Walz School Decision     
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nofish
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07/31/2020 08:53AM
How many of you have school age children and say glued to Gov Walz press conference yesterday? I know the school situation has been the #1 topic of discussion in my house lately.

We have a 2nd grader and preschooler. We know what 2nd grade will look like at least for the start of the year but we're still waiting on word on preschool.

I understand the decision Walz made but I'm still struggling to understand its implications. We are in the Mounds View school district and they opted for the hybrid model with the choice to do distance learning. The district had the choice to send elementary kids full time in person but I don't think they can logistically handle that and have any sense of social distancing.

My issue with the plan is how often are we going to have to flip back and forth between models. Every 2 weeks new numbers come out that will determine what model you are allowed to do. If the county ends up being right on the edge of the cut off for one model versus the other could you be switching between models every 2 weeks? Thankfully both my wife and I are working from home for the forseable future so we have the privilege of flexibility but I know a lot of people aren't so lucky. They won't be able to pivot from full time in person, to part time in person, to full time distance learning as easily due to their work situations.

What are your thoughts on the plan laid out by Walz and your school districts?
 
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OCDave
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07/31/2020 04:24PM
It is hard to adhere to a single solid plan when there is new information every week. Flipping models should be considered a sign that your district is being responsive to an evolving situation.

Both my wife and I work in hospital healthcare but, I suspect my biggest risk to exposure will be from my high school aged son and his peers. My occupational environment follows strict risk controls but, keeping distance between teenagers is nearly impossible.

We are resigned to the notion that to keep our son on track academically, it will require much more parent involvement than a year ago.

 
08/02/2020 09:17AM
Did Governor Walz stop talking yet :) Overall I think he is doing a good job, but man he could of gotten to the point and been more concise...had to get the cliff notes...

I think the plan is good. If a town has no infections in out state Minnesota there is no reason they need to follow the exact same plan as a Metro school.

Working in health care we have changed our processes probably over a 100 times since March. It’s not a bad thing...you adapt and change based on situations you encounter, new data, and changing rules. It would be impossible and negligent to dictate to each school district on how to proceed based off of what is going on now. Each district is going to have to adapt over time.

My district hasn’t told us a plan yet. Have an 8th grader and 6th grader. They both did well with distance learning last year, but I have friends whose kids really suffered. If we have the option to send them to school or a hybrid I think we will do the hybrid. There aren’t many kids in our area and I feel their social development is falling behind. I wouldn’t put my kids back in our district with full school. I agree with the American Academy of Pediatricians, but reserve the right to change my mind if circumstances change.

T
 
nofish
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08/03/2020 10:29AM
After my initial reaction to the announcement I'm more ok with the plan.

It makes complete sense why they are doing it this way since every community is being impacted differently or at different times. More many areas in person schooling seems reasonable, especially in some of the rural areas where they are seeing very little if any infections. You can't treat the entire state equally.

It also seems that at least our district will take a slightly more conservative approach than the guidelines. Hopefully they'll stay on the conservative side and make decisions that will keep kids and staff the safest and also provide the most consistency and least amount of switching back and forth.

We know we'll be hybrid with the choice for distance learning. Still waiting for a few more details about how hybrid will work. Sounds like schools will have to offer some sort of school ages child care for kids of essential workers. I'm curious to see how that will work because in a hybrid model it would seem they can't provide that care in the school building itself and still maintain that 50% ratio.

Overall I do think Walz has done a good job. I do wish he had gone with the mask mandate sooner and was disappointed to hear that he was holding off while hoping to get more republican buy in. When its the right decision you shouldn't drag your feet for political reasons, just make the call and get it done.

We still are debating if we'll do in person or stick with distance learning. Distance learning worked for my oldest so we're considering sticking with it but we still need to figure out what the 4 year old will do this fall. He's supposed to be in a part time preschool program but we haven't heard what that will look like yet. We are also debating if the oldest goes to school should we start sending the youngest back to part time day care. So many possible variables its hard to know what is best. They all have consequences, different risk factors, and implications with our ability to see grandparents.
 
08/03/2020 09:18PM
We just got our first message from our district was to see who wants distance learning only—-south metro. It is called online academy. Looks much improved from last spring. . Once they get the numbers for that then they will decide what the in school version would be. Makes sense...theoretically if 75% choose on line then the rest could be full time. Won’t happen but who knows.

T
 
nofish
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08/04/2020 04:00PM
Our district did a survey to get a feel for how many wanted full time in person, hybrid, or full time distance but the survey was in my opinion poorly done. We had to pick one but we're not given any information about how each choice would be conducted or what safety measures would be in place to make them possible. They shared the results but did it in a way that were very leading. They said that roughly 70% preferred some type of in person and they reached that by combining the votes for full time in person and hybrid. However, they easily could have combine hybrid with full time distance learning and shared that roughly 70% preferred some type of distance learning. I believe the break down was roughly 30% full time in person, 40% hybrid, and 30% full time online.

We are trying to make our decision but we are waiting for a lot of our questions to be answered. We have no idea what safety measures will be in place and keep getting told it will depend on the school but no one will tell us what our school will look like. We also have no idea what the full time online will look like. They've had all summer to game plan a better system than we had in the spring so I imagine it will be better. Teachers have also have some experience now and can learn from what worked and what didn't.

Right now I think we are leaning toward keeping our daughter home. We're leaning that way for a few reasons. First we don't have a lot of faith that the in person model will be able to be done for very long before it has to move to full time distance learning. We'd have to make some big adjustments to make part time in person work and I'm not sure its worth making those adjustments if its not going to last and considering it only allows 2 days of in person each week. So seems like not enough reward for the added risk and the adjustments we have to make. The second reason we are thinking of keeping her home is that we realize we are in a good position and have the ability to keep her home. Others aren't as lucky and really need to send their kids either because their jobs make distance learning difficult or because the child really struggles with that learning model. If we keep our daughter home that gives those that need to send their child the ability to do so with a little more safety knowing it should keep the class sizes a little smaller.

Once we get answers to our questions we'll make our final decision.
 
straighthairedcurly
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08/04/2020 10:24PM
I have a high school senior and he is thrilled that his school is planning to use the hybrid model and he gets to be at school 2 days a week. Students have an option for 100% online, but he knew based on the spring that he is much happier getting to do at least some in person. Still haven't heard the exact model for his PSEO course at St. Paul College.

I am a teacher of elementary age. As an independent school we are emphasizing having 4th grade and younger at school 100% (option available for 100% online) and we are splitting them into cohorts of 8-10 students who stay together everyday. Normally I am a specialist, but this year I will be assigned a cohort to teach. Our 5th grade and older will be using a hybrid model for now.

 
nofish
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08/05/2020 09:06AM
I have a neighbor who is an epidemiologist and who has obviously followed covid very closely. So far her predictions have been spot on every step of the way for how things will likely play out in MN. Her prediction is that at least in our county we will all be distance learning before October based on current case count and the rate of increase. She shared a county by county breakdown on case count based on the data being used to dictate school openings. the data goes all the way back to last May when all schools were closed. In our county our case count is currently higher than it was in May by almost double and its continuing to trend upwards. Based on current trends its very possible that the planned hyrbid model will get nixed at least for high school students before the school year even starts.

We are also starting to hear bits and pieces of what in person learning may look like for elementary. Its sounding like no papers being passed out, no classroom books or possibly library books that would be shared among students. Its sounding like the students will likely be on their laptops submitting all assignments virtually like they have been doing during distance learning. We're curious to hear what specialist classes will look like. I can't imagine they can send group after group of kids down to the gym teacher. That puts the gym teacher in contact with the entire school. If that teacher gets covid they could spread it to a large number of people across many classes. Same for other specialist teachers.

I was talking with my wife last night about all of this and we were talking about how easy it is to get frustrated with the district for not providing the information we want/need in order to make our decision. We have to force ourselves to stop and think about how bad of a spot all of the district decision makers are in over this. There is no right answer, there isn't even a good answer, its all various forms of bad answers and they are trying to make the best decisions they can knowing no matter what no one will be happy. I'm sure none of them signed up to run a school during a global pandemic that includes all kinds of political baggage along with it.
 
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