There's still about a week until the East Grand Forks School Board gives final approval to the 2020-2021 school year learning plans, but drafts of the plans were presented at the board's meeting Monday night, Aug. 10.
The board is seeking input from the school community on the plans, but in their current draft they are as follows: pre-K through fifth-grade students will return to fully in-person learning in the fall, while grades 6 through 12 will follow a hybrid model, attending school in-person on alternating A and B days.
EGF School District Director of Teaching and Learning Suraya Driscoll said the current recommendation prioritizes stability.
"We want to make sure you have some sustainability with that model, so that you're not switching all the time, because that's really difficult for families and everyone involved," she said.
Gov. Tim Walz announced on July 30 that school districts will be given local control when deciding how to proceed with the fall semester. The EGF district has worked closely with Polk County Public Health, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education to formulate the current recommendation, district Superintendent Mike Kolness said.
The state offered five recommended models to districts based on their county's average number of cases per 10,000 tested individuals over a 14-day period. At present, Polk County has 8.86 positive cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 tested individuals, and falls within the state's recommendation for counties falling in the 0-9 range to fully re-open.
But Driscoll said that they opted instead to take a conservative approach, taking into account that the county average includes case numbers from smaller, rural areas.
There are still several significant question marks in the EGFSD plan.
Special education is one of them. Whether the district will prioritize temperature screenings or symptom screenings is another. And the district has yet to receive any guidance from the state about how to safely hold music classes.
A full distance learning option, which the district calls its "family flex" plan, will be available to any family who prefers not to send their children back to school. As of Monday evening, about 50 to 60 families had signed up for the flex plan, and Kolness said he expects that number to swell after the learning plans are formally released.
The board plans to readdress the drafted plans at a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17.