Transition to Distance Learning for All
Posted by Forest Lake Area Schools on 11/19/2020 7:00:00 PM
Due to staffing shortages and increased disruptions in learning related to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to transition into distance learning for all grades and all schools within our district. Our 9-12th grade students are already in distance learning, and in December middle school, elementary, preschool and STEP students will also move to distance learning. The district will finish hybrid learning next week, and distance learning will begin after the Thanksgiving holiday break.
The timeline for this transition is below:
- Wednesday, November 25 - last day of hybrid learning
- Monday, November 30* - Professional development day for staff, no school for students
- Tuesday and Wednesday, December 1-2 - Transition planning days for staff.
- No school for preschool, elementary, middle school or STEP students.
- Regular distance learning day for students in grades 9-12 and Ranger Academy.
- Thursday, December 3 - First day of distance learning
- Friday, December 4 - Distance learning day for all students
*This professional development day takes the place of the previously scheduled Dec. 4 professional development day.
Distance learning will be provided to students on every school day. It will not follow a hybrid color schedule. This distance learning will continue at least through the duration of this current quarter, which ends on January 22. We will review the COVID-19 situation in January and communicate with families again as we get closer to that date.
I know this may be a frustrating announcement for many families. We had hoped to hold on to our hybrid learning model as long as possible. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are not able to sustain that model in the current COVID-19 climate.
With increased community spread of the virus, we’ve seen an increase in the number of staff who cannot come to school due to COVID-19. These reasons could range from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis of the staff member or their family, quarantine because of close contact with someone who tested positive, or lack of child care due to a COVID-19 situation.
We have had a shortage in available substitute staff members all year, and with increasing staff absences, it has become increasingly challenging to cover our operations, often at a cost of consistency and quality service for our students.
Learning experience for students
Just like our staff, more and more students are having prolonged and repeated absences from school due to exposure or a diagnosis of COVID-19. This has created a classroom experience that is inconsistent and challenging for students, teachers and families to manage. Distance learning will provide students with a more consistent educational experience over the next several weeks while we move through this winter surge in virus cases.
Child care needs
We understand that many families will have childcare needs during this period of distance learning. More information about the District’s child care program can be found at this link.
We had hoped to avoid widespread distance learning for students this year, especially for our youngest learners. However, the widespread prevalence of COVID-19 in our community is impacting our ability to provide in-person services to students, We’re thankful that we were able to start the school year strong, build a good foundation of learning and establish strong relationships with our students. We remain hopeful that the situation will improve early in 2021 and we will be able to bring our students back to school for a strong finish to this unusual school year.
Thank you for your understanding as we make this transition to distance learning. I can assure you that your child will experience a high quality distance learning experience that will include daily interactive instruction and learning with their teacher.
Steve Massey, Superintendent