No doubt, the biggest question on the minds of Minnesota parents is whether public schools will open back up in the fall.
The state should be releasing guidelines soon. Those guidelines will need to be followed by the school.
There are three options: 1.) Students return to class fulltime, 2.) Students return to class part time and do distance learning part time, 3.) Students do only distance learning.
“The best scenario is what is in the best interest of our students, families and staff,” said Wayzata School District Superintendent Chace Anderson. “The pandemic is an ever-changing situation and what may be a preference today can change tomorrow. We are learning right now from other schools across the country that are opening and others that will remain closed. We will be prepared for all of the scenarios in the event one or all of them need to be implemented.”
|Kim Anderson and family live in Wayzata|
This past spring parents needed to quickly switch gears as their students adapted to distance learning.
“We probably were thriving at it three days in total and the rest of the time, simply surviving it,” said Kim Anderson, Wayzata resident and mother of three students in the Wayzata School District.
Anderson said she, her husband and kids were committed to sticking with the online program.
|Anderson family e-learning chart|
“When things were starting to go off the rails, we stopped and took a break, went outside, rode bikes, got some fresh air,” said Anderson. “I knew in the back of my mind that we were in it for the long haul and I wasn’t willing to fight and get frustrated over getting it done when I knew how hard this was on them and us.”
|Wayzata Public Schools Superintendent Chace Anderson|
“We learned a lot from our distance learning last year and believe we will be even better capable to continue distance learning if needed this year,” said Chace Anderson. “As for in-person learning, we have been working throughout the summer with our staff to make sure we will have the safest environment for learning given the circumstances. A team of 40 staff from across the district are in the midst of planning for each of the scenarios that may be directed by the state and will be sharing more information with families and staff in early August.”
“Parents in the district have been reaching out to me, to other school board members, to principals and to the superintendent, in a variety of combinations, to articulate their hopes and concerns for the upcoming school year,” said Wayzata Public Schools Board Member Seanne Falconer. “These parent communications have been invaluable in bringing to light nuanced issues and offering novel solutions and I really appreciate that they’ve connected with me. I’ve kept a log of them as well as passed them all on to Dr. Anderson and his team who are building out the plans for every possible learning scenario.”
“As a working parent of two young grade-schoolers, I’ve heard from many parents who are in my family’s exact same situation who offered very different ideas of what the district should do,” said Falconer. “But all of the communications I’ve received shared the same urgency and concern for their kids’ physical and emotional health, academic progress and access to the teachers and paraprofessionals that their kids rely on for their Wayzata education.”
“I believe a hybrid is probably the best, most reasonable and realistic approach,” said Kim Anderson.
“I believe in the risks and seriousness of COVID-19, so the idea of continuing to send my kids into an environment where they could catch it, bring it home and/or infect family members weighs on my mind and heart. But I balance that against their emotional, mental, and physical well-being and believe that some (if not all) in-person learning will be better for them, than staying at home.”
Wayzata Public Schools recently completed a survey that showed most parents prefer to have their children in school. The survey said that parents want this to be done in a safe manner.
“The challenge is how to accomplish that, which is what we are working on,” said Chace Anderson. “Our mission is to teach each and every student as safely as possible considering this global pandemic. “
Kim Anderson worries about her children getting sick and about the safety of teachers, friends and extended family members. But she acknowledges there is a balance between physical and mental health.
“I go back to the data, the general likelihood of mild symptoms in most people, especially children and weigh that against the overall emotional, physical and mental well-being of them being back at school,” said Kim Anderson.
Another survey found that most of the schools’ staff are comfortable with returning.
“We are experiencing something that we have never experienced before, that alone is enough to create concern,” said Chace Anderson. “We have dedicated professionals who believe in what they do, believe in their students and believe in our community and will be there with them every step of the way however learning may look in the fall.”
“I just want to thank all the teachers and staff of Wayzata Schools for all they did during the very difficult distance learning period of last school year,” said Kim Anderson. “And what they are continuing to do to evaluate the right, smartest and safest options for moving foward in the coming school year, in light of the ongoing pandemic. There was always updated and sufficient communication from the district, our teachers and staff at Gleason Lake were incredible.”
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