Latest Update from the District
Stay alert and ready for changesPosted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 10/14/2020 3:00:00 PM
As we approach this week’s fall break, I hope you will find fun and safe ways to enjoy spending the time together with your family.
This school year continues to require flexibility and adaptability from our staff and families. We are monitoring COVID-19 case data every day, and continuing discussions with the Minnesota Department of Health about whether current circumstances continue to support our amount of in-person learning. You might be aware that Anoka, Chisago, and Washington counties are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.
At this point, we are NOT announcing any change from our current model of elementary students attending school fully in person, and secondary students attending school on a hybrid schedule. However, parents should stay tuned and be prepared for a change to either elementary hybrid, or potentially full distance learning if any of the following areas begin to cause concern:
- Community Case Data
Numbers of cases within our community seem to be on an increasing trend, and larger numbers of individuals infected in our community create more potential for the disease to be brought into our school buildings. The school district will continue watching case data trends and will work with the Department of Health to determine if and when case trends prompt us to make a change. If we made this type of change, we would give advance notice for families and planning time for staff, and the change would be long-term.
- Staffing concerns
Shortages of substitute staff members, along with an increased need for quarantining and/or staying home with symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 are combining to create staffing shortages with teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and other staffing areas. It is possible that staff shortages could push the district into distance learning if we are unable to safely staff our operations.
Currently, we have not had any indication that COVID-19 is spreading within our schools. However, if signs of an outbreak do occur within a school or grade level, we will take necessary precautions to prevent any further spread, and that would likely require a temporary switch to distance learning for those grade levels or schools involved.
We know that, when it is safe, in-person learning is the preferred way for students to learn, collaborate and build relationships. We are committed to keeping students in school as long as it is safe to do so. At the same time, we want families to be alert and prepared in case we need to make a change at some point in the near future.
Steve Massey, Superintendent
- Community Case Data
District Calendar ChangePosted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 9/17/2020 9:00:00 PM
I hope your school year is off to a great start. It is great to have students back in school. As we entered this school year, I have been very clear that we need to be flexible and prepared to adjust plans in order to best meet the needs of students in this unprecedented year.
To help improve the learning process for students and teachers, we are adjusting our school year calendar.
Calendar change for all district families
Families should take note of the following changes in our district’s previously adopted school calendar:
- Nov. 30th will be a school day and Dec. 4 will be a non school day
- Jan. 25 will be a school day and Jan. 29 will be a non school day
- March 15 will be a school day and March 5 will be a non school day
Hybrid Schedule Change
These calendar days above were adjusted to accommodate a new hybrid schedule for secondary students. At this time, the hybrid schedule change does NOT impact elementary or pre-K students. Students in grades K-6 will continue to attend school in person every day. Preschool and early childhood will continue to follow their current schedule.
If COVID-19 case numbers prompt our elementary schools to move to a hybrid model at some point in the future, they will follow this new hybrid schedule. Please use this new calendar to replace any previous school year calendars you printed or picked up at one of our school buildings.
Your understanding and flexibility is greatly appreciated this year more than ever. Please know and trust that we are committed to providing students with an excellent learning experience while remaining focused on their safety and well-being. Please reach out to your building administrators with any questions.
First Day of SchoolPosted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 9/8/2020
I know that you are receiving a lot of communications from your child’s school and teacher. Therefore, I will be brief. I am so excited to have reached the first day of school after such a long period of distance learning last year. Whether your child is attending in-person learning or attending the Ranger Academy, we are thrilled to be back to learning and engaging with our students. Thank you for the trust you have placed in your child’s school and teacher especially during these uncertain times. Please know that your child’s learning and safety and well being is our top priority.
A few important reminders:
- Please go through the home wellness check with your child each morning before he/she leaves for school. We ask that you take your child’s temperature each morning.
- In an effort to keep everyone healthy, please do not send your child to school if he/she is not feeling well or has any COVID-19 related symptoms. Let’s err on safety rather than “fighting” through an illness.
- We continue to monitor county and local COVID-19 cases. There has been a steady rise in cases locally and within the three counties we serve. We are in regular contact with local and state health officials as we study the safety of our current learning models.
- As I have shared many times, we may need to shift to a more restrictive model if COVID-19 cases increase. I ask that families be prepared if we need to shift to more at home learning in the future.
As always, please reach out to your child’s school if you have any questions or concerns.
Announcement for the start of schoolPosted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 7/30/2020 8:00:00 PM
This afternoon, Governor Walz gave guidance to Minnesota school districts, allowing them to make a local decision about the start of the school year based on county COVID case data.
Tonight, the Forest Lake Area School Board made the decision to follow the state framework of recommendations for how students will be learning this year.
Based on current data, this would mean that our school year will begin with all elementary (K-6) and early childhood students learning in-person at school, and all secondary (7-12, STEP) students attending school via a hybrid model of learning in-person part of the time and learning at home part of the time.
Forest Lake Area Schools will accomplish the hybrid model through an every-other-day schedule for secondary students. Students will be split into two groups, a maroon group and a gold group, and will alternate between attending school one day and learning at home one day, repeating that pattern continuously. With the recent statewide rule requiring masks in public buildings, all students and staff will wear face coverings while they are at school.
Our highest priority is to support student learning through student/teacher connections. With this in mind, the A/B schedule was chosen so that students would have frequent opportunities to interact with their teacher and classmates, and would not have long periods of time at home before they have a chance to connect in person with their teacher.
Families of secondary students will be contacted soon with information about which group your students have been assigned to, along with a color-coded school calendar showing maroon and gold days. Based on our survey results from earlier this summer, we know it’s important for families to have consistent schedules, so we will ensure that every student within the same household is assigned to the same group.
We recognize that, due to health or safety concerns, some students will not be able to return under this model. If this applies to you, please fill out this form and your building principal or a staff member will be in touch with you to discuss a distance learning option.
Because the hybrid learning scenario for secondary students is new and unfamiliar, we recognize that there will be many questions and uncertainties. We will continue to send updates with additional details during the next few weeks, and we also will be maintaining a Frequently Asked Questions section of our COVID-19 website with more detailed information.
Please be aware that as the COVID-19 situation changes within our community and state, we may need to switch to a different learning scenario at some point during this school year. If there is a change, we will communicate with families, allowing as much advance notice as is possible.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unusual set of challenges for our students, families and staff, we are thrilled to be able to have your students back with us. We can’t wait to get started learning and connecting this fall.
Mask requirement in schoolsPosted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 7/22/2020
Note: please see our Frequently Asked Mask Questions for more information regarding the mask requirement in schools.
Good afternoon families,
This afternoon Governor Walz directed that masks or face coverings must be worn throughout Minnesota in all indoor public spaces. This new rule will include school buildings and indoor facilities. This will apply to all staff and students (kindergarten and older), and will begin on Saturday, July 25.
We do not yet have guidance from the Governor on the amount of in-person learning that will be allowed for Minnesota schools in September. This guidance is expected to be announced next week. However, we now know that any learning or activities happening within our school building will include masks for both students and staff.
We are advising families, if you haven’t already done so, please begin making or purchasing cloth masks for your students, and allowing them the opportunity to become comfortable wearing them for extended periods of time. You can also help them understand the expectations for how to correctly wear a mask.
We know that many families want their students to be able to attend school in-person this fall and we are hopeful that masks will be a big preventative step in helping to accomplish that safely.
Students who are currently enrolled in summer child care will be impacted by this new requirement beginning next week. Families of these students should watch for additional information from Community Education.
According to the Governor’s executive order, masks may be removed while students are actively participating in sports, physical education or other indoor exercise where the level of exertion makes it difficult to wear a face covering. Athletic activities within our schools will continue to follow Minnesota’s guidance for youth or adults in sports.
If you need more details or clarifications about special circumstances, please contact your building principal.
Planning for fallPosted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 6/25/2020
I hope you are enjoying the early days of summer and finding ways to enjoy our beautiful community with your friends and family.
I know many of you are anxious to know plans for the start of the school year. It’s too soon to know exactly how things will look this fall, but we are actively making plans over the summer. Last week, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) provided guidance for school districts as we plan for next school year.
While there are no easy answers, I want to assure you that our district is working toward solutions that meet the needs of both students and families. Our staff have many years of experience and expertise in understanding student needs and helping each student learn.
At the end of the school year we surveyed families and asked you to share some of your thoughts with us about this fall. We appreciate your willingness to share those thoughts and opinions and we will be using that feedback as we plan for the upcoming school year.
Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, the state has asked us to prepare for three possible scenarios so that we will be fully prepared for the start of the school year. These three scenarios include:
Scenario 1: In-person learning for all students
Students return to school for in-person learning while following state guidelines for student and staff safety.
Scenario 2: Hybrid learning with strict social distancing and capacity limits
This scenario will include a hybrid of in-person learning and distance learning.
Scenario 3: Distance learning only
Learning will take place in a distance learning format similar to this past spring.
For each of these scenarios, we will be planning for the following important elements:
- Student and Family Support
- Educator Support and Professional Learning
We have already begun planning for each of these three scenarios. According to MDE, we will receive direction by July 27th on which of these scenarios should be used for a safe start to the school year. Detailed planning for each of these scenarios is important as we might need to move back and forth from one scenario to another throughout the school year. I will provide frequent updates for families as we plan for this upcoming school year. MDE is seeking feedback from families regarding their experience with distance learning this past spring. The link to this survey can be found here.
We understand that there will be some families who have health related concerns with returning to in-person learning and that there will be a need for high-impact learning opportunities for students who are not able to return to school. As we develop plans for the fall, we will be making accommodations to meet the needs of all students.
During these uncertain times, I am confident that we will serve the learning needs of our students with the high quality instruction and programming that you have come to expect from us. While learning may look different, the same exceptional educators will be engaging your student in learning and making real and lasting connections.
Thank you for the trust you place in Forest Lake Area Schools. We are committed to our vision: Excellence for Every Student Every Day!
Distance Learning extended through the end of the school yearPosted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 4/23/2020 3:00:00 PM
This afternoon Governor Walz extended his order to close schools through the end of the school year. Under this order, students will not return to our school buildings, and distance learning will continue through our last day of school, June 5.
Although we would have loved to have students back in their classrooms with us, we recognize these steps are important to protect the health of our students and our entire community.
We know that this announcement will prompt a lot of concerns and questions from our families. We will answer some of those questions below. Please feel free to reach out if you have additional questions or concerns.
Distance learning will continue through June 5, which is the end of our school year. Staff will continue to provide meaningful lessons that support student learning and will remain connected with their students through the end of the school year. May 1, May 4 and May 25 will be non-instructional days for students. May 25 is Memorial Day and May 1 and 4 were set aside by the Governor as days for teachers to prepare and refine their distance learning plans.
Grab-and-go meals (breakfast and lunch) will continue to be provided at no cost on school days at the following locations: Forest Lake Area High School, Forest View Elementary, Lino Lakes Elementary, Linwood Elementary and Wyoming Elementary. Meals can be picked up between 10:00 a.m. and noon. Families can pick up meals at any location that is convenient to them, (they do not have to pick up meals from the school their children attend). Meals are provided free of charge to any student under 18, and are intended to assist the children of low income families or any family in need of these meals. Please contact your building principal if you have any difficulty picking up meals.
The school district will continue to provide child care for the children of essential employees through June 5. You can visit our COVID-19 childcare website for more information and to see if your family qualifies.
Personal items at school:
Students who have personal items at school should watch for communication from their school principal regarding locker clean-out and pick-up procedures.
Sports and Activities:
The Minnesota State High School League has not yet made an official announcement, but they are expected to cancel the spring sports/activities season. Refunds will automatically be given to students who have already registered to participate.
Prom, field trips and other year-end activities:
Large group gatherings will not be allowed to occur this spring, so these events have been cancelled.
Even though we cannot hold a traditional graduation, we are committed to celebrating the accomplishments of our class of 2020. High School staff are working on plans for a virtual graduation. More details will be shared with high school students once those plans are finalized.
With the exception of childcare for essential workers and early childhood distance learning programs, all other on site Community Education classes and programming will be cancelled through June 5. Details regarding specific classes, cancellations and Community Education distance learning options will be communicated from Community Education on a class-by-class basis. The Community Education department will continue to follow state recommendations on whether classes and programming can be resumed after that date.
Summer School and next fall:
At this point, summer school and Extended School Year (ESY) programming will go forward as planned, with students on-site at our summer school locations. If this should change, we will notify families immediately.
Long term planning:
It’s too early to know what the fall will bring, but our staff will be working diligently over the next several months, following the guidance of health professionals to make sure that when students are allowed to return to our buildings, they can do so in a safe way.
We are looking forward to the day when we can welcome our students back to classes and once again see their smiling faces. In the meantime, please know that we are well-prepared, and continue to work diligently to support our students as they work through distance learning.
Extended School Closure and Distance Learning announcedPosted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 3/25/2020 4:00:00 PM
Message to families:
This afternoon, Governor Walz announced that schools will continue to be closed through May 4, and that Distance Learning in Minnesota will begin next week. At the end of our current spring break, Forest Lake Area Schools will transition to Distance Learning beginning on Wednesday, April 1.
We understand this can be a stressful time for our students and families as we begin this new model of learning. Please be assured that our teachers have been working hard to provide a meaningful distance education for their students, and that our entire district staff is ready to support students and families through this process.
As you begin to think about next week, please visit our district’s COVID-19 response website (flaschools.org/covid) for information about Distance Learning and what you and your students can do to be prepared for next week’s learning. Specific lessons and activities will not be available until April 1, but there are steps that families can take now to make sure they are ready to get started.
For parents who work in emergency/essential occupations, our district will continue to provide childcare for enrolled students of Forest Lake Area Schools. You can find more information about childcare resources on our COVID-19 response website.
We recognize that this pandemic situation is creating new hardships for many families. We have created a list of resources that may be of help to many families. In addition, if you or your family is struggling, please feel free to reach out to your school counselor or dean.
Steve Massey, Superintendent