By Randy Bergquist, Osakis Public Schools superintendent

Gov. Walz has mandated that Minnesota public schools establish a return to school framework with three scenario options for students during the 2020-2021 school year. Each of these learning models provide families a framework that instills safety for students, families, and staff, as well as provide structure for consistency in instruction, student and family expectations, and flexibility for families and students so that all children can reach their fullest potential during these uncertain times.

Scenario 1. In-person learning: All instruction is delivered onsite during normal school hours. Extra safety precautions will be in place to enhance staff and student safety. K-12 students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, as mandated by the MN governor. Cleaning and sanitizing the building, especially high-contact areas, will be a priority. Social distancing will be practiced to the greatest extent possible.

Scenario 2. Hybrid Learning: Instruction is delivered using both the in-person and distance learning models. The student population participating in hybrid learning is divided alphabetically to achieve 50% occupancy and allow for 6 ft. social distancing. Each group will receive in-person instruction 2 days per week and take part in distance learning 3 days.

Grades K-6: On distance learning days, students will be provided pre-recorded lessons and/or live instruction using video conferencing technology to ensure age-appropriate daily learning opportunities related to the in-person learning taking place that day.

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Grades 7-12: The normal 7 period daily schedule will be followed each day, whether students are in-person or participating in distance learning. On distance learning days, students will participate in live classroom instruction using video conferencing technology.

Scenario 3. Distance Learning: Students will learn at home utilizing technology and learning opportunities provided by their Osakis Public School teachers. Daily class attendance will be required. Based on feedback from students, staff, and parents, we will look too significantly improve upon the spring 2020 distance learning experience.

Points of emphasis. Face coverings/shields as mandated by Gov. Walz will be required by all persons in Osakis Public School buildings and buses. The custodians and staff will use EPA approved cleaning agents for disinfection, with increased frequency throughout the day of high-touch surfaces: doorknobs, handrails, restroom fixtures, etc. Students are not permitted in the school building until 8:10 a.m. Students and staff will enter from either the high school entrance (north) or the pre-school entrance (south) and immediately pass through a thermal scanner that will check their temperature.

Regardless of which learning model our school year starts or ends with, it is our goal to conduct each model with fidelity. We want to ensure that all of our students make growth in the areas of academics, the arts, and social-emotional well-being. Though there are challenges ahead and much uncertainty in the future, Osakis Public School is dedicated to providing consistency in education and family support.

Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.