The Minnesota Department of Education released new guidelines on how schools respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage them to prepare for distance learning. See guidelines.
MDE defines distance learning as students engaging in distance learning have access to appropriate educational materials and receive daily interaction with their licensed teacher(s).
- School districts must ensure equal access to ALL students.
- Should your district decide to utilize a distance learning model, during a closure, the Federal and State guidelines must be followed.
- Students need to be able to participate in their learning equitably and have access to all relevant services and supports.
MDE provided a series of considerations, including:
- Ensuring all students in the school or district will have equal access to the learning and required materials, including technology.
- Ensuring the online learning system can effectively support the district’s different learning and teaching needs, including the ability to provide differentiated instruction as well as one-on-one support for students who need it.
- Ensuring the requirements of full-day kindergarten are met.
- Providing training to staff, students, and parents/guardians on how the system works and the district’s expectations.
- Tracking the attendance of both students and staff.
- Ensuring the systems in use are secure and will not allow for the release of protected student or staff information.
Schools should provide materials for students to continue their learning. Each school would determine the most appropriate way to communicate and provide instruction for each student which could include some/all of the following:
- Paper packets or worksheets
- Telephone instruction.
- Online resources (take into account availability of broadband)
- Instruction via the school’s learning management system (LMS).
*This approach is NOT expected to be an option during the potential extended closure for COVID-19, due to current developing guidelines. In the event of a longer-term closure, it is best to count on no in-person interaction between students and staff. However, a blended approach is a model for school districts to consider when planning for a variety of future scenarios.
MREA has been working with MDE on the concept of a blended approach and will continue to advocating for guidelines that allow for a blended in-school and distance learning model of instruction. These are not official but apply modifications requested for social distance and distance learning:
- Evaluate actual physical shared space between people (adults and students) when in the building including: classrooms, hallways, lunchroom and on the bus.
- Avoid proximity of less than 6 feet for more than 10 minutes
- IF FEASIBLE, consider regular health checks – temperature of students and staff
- Ensuring the blended in-school and online (distance) learning system can effectively support the district’s different learning and teaching needs, including the ability to provide differentiated instruction as well as one-on-one support for students who need it.
- Identify supports on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be provided if the district is operating blended in-school and online learning
View latest guidelines. (Updated March 16, 2020)
Stay apprised of resources and news on COVID-19 for schools at: MREAvoice.org/covid19