2020/2021 School Year

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Our school district is planning to start the school year with all elementary (including preschool and early childhood) students coming fully back to school in person in September, while also providing a distance learning option for families (see more information on the distance learning option below).
While this is exciting news, we want to remind families that this plan is based on state guidelines for communities like ours, with a low number of local COVID-19 cases. If COVID-19 cases begin to increase locally, elementary families should be prepared to move into a “hybrid” schedule (more information about that below) or even full distance learning if the pandemic situation worsens.
We know that families are eager for additional information about school this year, and we will continue to provide updates during the month of August and into September. The information below includes all of the details we can share with you so far:
Students will have access to the same classroom-based academic instruction and services that we would offer in a normal school year, including specialist classes like music, media and physical education.
Teachers will increase their use of technology resources like SeeSaw (K-2 grade) and Google Classroom (3-6 grade) in order to make it easier for students to stay connected to their learning when they have to be home for illness or quarantine reasons.
COVID-19 Safety
At this time, we are able to bring students fully back into the classroom because our level of community spread is low. With less of the disease spreading in our community, it is less likely that a student or teacher will be exposed to it in our school.
In addition, our elementary schools will implement the following safety protocols:
Increased physical distancing
With all students fully back in school, we cannot achieve a full 6 feet of distance between students in all settings, but we will spread out classroom desks/tables as much as possible. We will also create new procedures for limiting contact between students while moving through the hallway, using the restroom and working in other common areas.
Masks for all students and teachers
In compliance with the Governor’s mask requirement, all students and staff will wear masks throughout the day. (more information about the mask requirement is available on our website) Families are encouraged to get a supply of well-fitting masks for their student and use the next month to help their student adjust to wearing a mask. We will have masks available for students who do not have their own, or students who forget or lose their mask. We are also exploring the idea of building in “mask break” times, likely outside, where students could safely take a short break from wearing their mask.
Increased cleaning and sanitation
We will build in more structured time for students to wash their hands. Staff will increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting desks, classrooms and high-touch areas (door knobs, etc.). Our staff uses safe disinfecting products that are approved for use around young children in schools.
Clear protocols for student or staff illness
Our health office will have a separate area for students who experience COVID-like symptoms. Any confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case will be handled under the protocols established by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Family screening at home prior to attending school
Families will be asked to screen their child at home for signs of illness (temperature, cough, etc.) prior to attending school each day. In the next few weeks, we will provide a decision guide so that families can clearly understand when it is safe to send their child to school, and when it is not.
Is it possible that we could move into a hybrid learning scenario?
Yes, if the COVID-19 situation worsens in our community and we see an increased number of local cases, we will move into a hybrid scenario for our elementary students.
Under a hybrid scenario, students will be divided into two groups (maroon and gold) and each group will attend school in person on alternating days, with a day of at-home learning in between. In preparation for this possibility, students will be assigned a maroon or gold group prior to the start of the school year, and we will provide a color-coded school calendar showing which days maroon students attend school and which days gold students attend school.
What if I want to choose Distance Learning (Ranger Academy)?
Students in Kindergarten through grade 6 who choose distance learning will be enrolled in our new Ranger Academy and will be assigned to an experienced and licensed teacher and class of students who are learning remotely. Ranger Academy will use our school's technology resources but will also provide paper copies of materials when needed. Students will be expected to have daily interaction and instruction with their teacher during regular school hours.
Technology resources for Ranger Academy
SeeSaw (grades K-2)
Google Classroom (grades 4-6)
Google Meet (for virtual class or student/teacher interaction)
Typical Ranger Academy Day
Daily interactive instruction through live chat, virtual group lessons or individual lessons, or phone chat
Attendance will be recorded based on daily interactive contact between student and teacher, participation in virtual group learning, and/or turning in completed work
Typical grading systems will be used to provide feedback on student progress
Choosing Ranger Academy
Families who choose Ranger Academy will be asked to make that choice for the full 2020-2021 school year. Families who are interested in distance learning via Ranger Academy should fill out our online form by August 14.
What should families be doing now?
With a little more than a month before school starts, here are some things that parents can do now to prepare their child and family for school:
Save the date of Wed. Sept. 2 from 4:30-- 6:30 for our virtual school open house
Purchase a well-fitting mask(s) for your child and help him/her get used to wearing it
Purchase school supplies. Please do not send cleaning products, wipes or hand sanitizers with your child, as these retail products are not approved for use in a school setting. The school will provide approved hand sanitizers, wipes and cleaning supplies.
Make sure your child has a water bottle to bring to school. Drinking fountains will be closed per CDC guidelines, but water bottle refill stations will still be accessible.
Begin thinking about your family’s plan for childcare in case we must move into a hybrid or full distance learning scenario.
When can I expect more details?
There are an immense number of details involved in operating a school during a pandemic. We continue to plan, prepare and review all of the various contingencies and will be sending out additional information at least once per week.
What if I still have questions?
As with anything you may need or wonder about, feel free to reach out to me if you have additional questions about school this fall. I may not be able to answer every question immediately, but I will work to find an answer.
I want to reiterate my gratitude to our staff, students, and families who have partnered with us this summer to work collaboratively on a completely new way to design our schools and deliver educational excellence. This has been a challenging and uncertain time and we thank you for your messages of support, feedback, and willingness to work alongside us to be innovative and work through the MDE guidelines.
We look forward to seeing you all this fall.
Mr. Geary, Principal
651-982-8851 or sgeary@flaschools.org