MDE offers initial guidance to schools for 2020-21 academic year

Staff Writer
Redwood Falls Gazette
Students in Minnesota schools may start the 2020-21 school year the way they ended 2019-20 - learning from home.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently released guidance to help Minnesota’s public schools plan for the 2020-21 school year.

“As we look ahead to the next school year, the health and safety of our students will continue to be our number one priority,” said Heather Mueller, Minnesota Department of Education deputy commissioner. “This spring brought about unprecedented changes to our society and our education system, and moving forward we must do everything we can to meet the needs of each and every student. The proactive planning that our school districts and charter schools will do this summer will ensure that our school communities are prepared for whatever this school year brings.”

“We are learning more about COVID-19 every day, but we still can’t be sure about exactly how the pandemic will play out over the coming months,” said Jan Malcolm, commissioner of health. “Until a vaccine is developed COVID-19 is likely to remain a serious concern, and we must be prepared for a variety of scenarios. We appreciate the partnership of the Minnesota Department of Education and the state’s school systems as we prepare for the start of school this fall.”

The guidance included a strong recommendation that school districts and charter schools create three different contingency plans for all three possible scenarios for the start of the school year this fall.

MDE is urging school leaders to plan for all three scenarios, so that school communities can be flexible, and students can receive continuous education in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic may require schools to shift to a different educational delivery model. 

The scenarios are:

• In-person learning for all students

• Hybrid learning with strict social distance and capacity limits

• A distance learning only option

In partnership with MDH and the governor’s office, MDE plans to announce a decision for which model of educational delivery will be in the best interest of the health and safety of students, school staff and school communities for the 2020-21 school year by the week of July 27, 2020.