Minnesota’s E-12 school leaders have been actively planning for a series of scenarios with in-person, hybrid and distance learning models and now begin active communications with the families and communities.

This year will require constant communication, adaptability and patience by all involved.

Minnesota’s Safe Learning guidance and related Executive Order from Gov. Tim Walz established a series of required communication steps, including:

  • Report the learning model to MDE before implementation.
  • Notify MDE of a change to the learning model within 24 hours, per the Executive Order.
  • Post their model and Safe Learning Plan on the school district website. including contingency plans for the other learning model scenarios.
  • Communicate initial learning model to parents within one week of the designated school year start date. (Sooner is better.)
  • School districts and charter schools must make all attempts to provide such communications orally and written in languages spoken in their respective school district or charter school.
  • Communicate to families that regardless of the chosen learning model, students can opt to do distance learning and how these students could return to hybrid or in-person learning when they are comfortable.

The learning models likely will change based on the prevalence of COVID-19 in local communities. View latest county COVID-19 case count for schools (8/31/2020)

Choosing a Model

The Minnesota Department of Education provided this framework for determining which of the three learning models to use for the 2020-21 school year.



0-9 In-person learning for all students
10-19 In-person learning for elementary students
Hybrid learning for middle and high school students
20-29 Hybrid learning for all students
30-49 Hybrid learning for elementary students
Distance learning for secondary students
50+ Distance learning for all students

Key points:

  • The Minnesota Department of Health will provide data for a designated 14-day block for school districts to use. View the latest report.
  • Schools that operate in multiple counties will need to make decisions based on the county with the highest number of cases.
  • Different school buildings can operate in different models.
  • A school can choose to scale down to a more restrictive learning model.
  • A school can choose to scale up to a less restrictive learning model, after consulting with local public health officials, MDH and MDE. 
  • Schools need to make distance learning available to any student.
  • Schools should identify and communicate how distance learning students can return to hybrid or in-person learning.

View the full Safe Learning Plan.

Communicating with Families

Communication plays a key role in clearing out confusion and calming concerns. In addition to the initial learning model communications, it is recommended the schools actively connect with families and increase their communications efforts, including:

  • Coordinate and streamline communications
  • Map communications using the four-part grid
  • Break down the information
  • Set expectations
  • Establish a schedule
  • Create a central information site for your Safe Learning Plans and information

MREA created a communication guide for school leaders with more details on these steps.  View the guide to communicating with families