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2020-21 School Year Plan

Where will students eat lunch?

The district has developed lunch schedules to accommodate the Minnesota Department of Education Safe Learning Plan requirements before students eating in the cafeteria and in some cases classrooms.

What is the impact on early childhood programming?

Early Childhood Family Education will continue in its current model. Preschool Place 15 students will continue to attend regularly in-person on scheduled days.

Once students return to in-person, will the instructional model stay that way, or can it move back to distance learning or hybrid again?

There will be the potential for individual classrooms, grade levels, schools, or districtwide transitioning between instructional models throughout the coming months based on the impact of COVID data on the district and direction given by governmental agencies such as the Minnesota Departments of Education and Health.


Where can I find the Safe Learning Plan for 2021 from the Minnesota Department of Education?

Please click Safe Learning Plan for 2020-21, A localized, data-driven plan

Can students switch learning models during the school year?

Yes. Parents/guardians can change student learning models during the school year. However, if a family chooses distance learning, they commit to distance learning for the entire trimester.

Can my student's classroom be moved to distance learning even if the school is in hybrid or in-person?

Yes. Temporary distance learning may be implemented for individual classrooms if positive cases and close contacts are identified. Individual classroom implementation will be done rather than shifting the learning model for the entire school. This scenario may also be used if staffing is impacted to the degree that in-person instruction cannot be offered.

Distance Learning Model

How is distance learning different this year than last spring?

One of the significant differences is the use of Schoology as a learning management system (LMS). All teachers, pre-kindergarten to grade 12, will use Schoology as the base for communication and where much of their instructional resources will be housed. For distance learning, the instructional lessons, videos, internet links, video conferencing links, recordings of instruction/lessons, etc., will be in Schoology. Once students log in to Schoology, and they will not need to leave the platform. Parents will also have a Schoology login to help stay in contact with teachers, view student progress, and see what assignments are coming up, for example. Students will also have daily, synchronous interactions with their teachers following their school schedules.

Is distance learning interactive between teachers and students?

There is more interactive time with teachers in the full distance learning model this year. Students will have independent work time (asynchronous learning) scheduled during their day and interactive learning time with teachers and classmates (synchronous learning). The synchronous learning time could be with a large group, small group, individual time, etc. Teachers will also record instruction and post videos to Schoology for later interaction as needed.

Will my student have a set schedule for distance learning?

Students will follow distance learning schedules and are required to attend school virtually every day.

Will elementary students still have their specials during distance learning?

Elementary students will have all of their specials: music, art, inquiry (technology), and physical education while in distance learning. Older students will have access to all of the same elective courses as they would if attending in-person. Courses will be modified for distance learning, and the district is working on specifics.

Will students who opt for distance learning have access to the same classes as those who choose hybrid?

Students will have access to similar classes in a hybrid or distance learning model. For instance, some classes, such as band, will look a bit different in the distance learning model than the hybrid since there will not be any in-person instruction.

Can students who are attending school via distance learning participate in school activities?

Yes. As long as school is being offered in a model (in-person or hybrid) that has students physically attending in a school building.

Hybrid Learning Model

How was the Group A, Group B hybrid model chosen?

The District administration reviewed a variety of information before planning the hybrid schedule. School buildings are disinfected every evening, whether the same students return the next day or not. Given that information, Group A students are in-person Monday/Wednesday with virtual learning on Tuesday/Thursday/Friday. Group B students are in-person Tuesday/Thursday with virtual learning on Monday/Wednesday/Friday.

Will siblings be placed on the same hybrid schedule, or will it just be left to chance?

All households/families will be in the same group, no matter the grade level.

Can I request my student's days for the hybrid schedule?

No. Family requests for hybrid schedules cannot be accommodated.

In the hybrid model, what will a typical day look like for students? How will instruction be delivered? 

There are two in-person days each week in the hybrid model, where students will follow a typical school schedule. Some modifications are being made to allow fewer students in the hallways during passing time and lunches. During the in-person days, teachers will also prepare students for their virtual learning days. The virtual days (three days a week) are called asynchronous learning. There will not be live interaction with teachers. Students will be independently learning, building on material given during their in-person days, and preparing for their next in-person day. Students will use Schoology to complete assignments, submit work, etc.

Where will students eat lunch in the hybrid model?

In the hybrid model, cafeterias will be at 50 percent capacity. Principals are working on lunch schedules that allow students to use the cafeterias at this capacity.


Are staff required to be tested for COVID-19?

COVID-19 is not mandatory for staff. The district will be offering free testing to staff every two weeks.

Will students be tested for COVID-19 at school?


Are masks and face shields required?

Staff and students must follow the Governor's Executive Order 20-81 and 20-94 and wear face coverings during school. Students who have medical or mental health conditions or those with disabilities, developmental or behavioral needs where it is difficult to tolerate a face covering are exempt under this order with a medical physician's note. Updated guidance for students includes face coverings when engaging in indoor physical activity. Students will be encouraged to wear masks when outside. Staff is strongly encouraged to wear face masks and face shields together. Disposable masks will be available when needed.

Where can I find the COVID-19 county-level data?

Please click here to find the latest COVID-19 data available from the Minnesota Department of Health.

How will the district handle positive cases of COVID-19?

Families need to notify the school as soon as possible if their student tests positive. Health service staff will identify the exposure date(s) and implement close contact tracing to identify students/staff that will need to quarantine. They will be sent home if they are in school. If not at school, they will be notified by phone or email. Students/staff will be required to be quarantined for ten days from the exposure date and monitor symptoms for another four days. Exposure notification will be emailed to close contacts. The classroom of an infected case will also be notified of the exposure by email, but no quarantine will be necessary. Families should monitor for illness, but students do not need to stay home unless symptoms develop. Health staff will notify the Minnesota Department of Education of positive cases. No testing will occur at the school. Minnesota Department of Health guidelines requires no further notifications to protect the data privacy of those involved. The district will not send out general information on confirmed positive cases and understand this may create unease for some families. Action is being taken to clean and sanitize all facilities. The district is working closely with MDH to monitor and COVID-19 situation. Please visit the district’s COVID-19 dashboard for the latest data.

If my child is in in-person or hybrid learning and has a cold or allergies (normal sickness children go to school with), will my child be sent home?

Staff will be extra cautious this year when children come to school with any symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms can look like many of the other illnesses or conditions.

Will temperatures be taken at the entrance to schools or other district buildings?

Temperatures will not be taken at the entrances to schools and other district buildings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend temperature taking since a fever is only one symptom that may indicate that a child has COVID-19. Parents are asked to monitor their children for symptoms at home and keep them home if they display any illness signs, including fever. Staff is asked to monitor their symptoms and not report to work if they are feeling ill.

What does the hand sanitation schedule look like? Students are continually touching their faces with masks on. Are they putting themselves at additional risk?

This is a difficult task for both staff and students, especially younger students. The goal is to provide education on proper mask use to staff and students, but realizing it is difficult for children and adults to avoid touching their face and mask.

Is Tier 1, essential worker childcare, offered again this year?

If elementary schools are in a hybrid or distance learning model, childcare will be offered to essential workers similar to last spring. This school-age childcare program is intended for extreme circumstances in which parents or guardians cannot be at home because they are Tier I Critical Workers. Care will be provided during school hours and staffed by Educational Assistants. Please follow the state guidelines (page 23) to determine if you qualify as a Tier I worker. Both parents must qualify as Tier I to receive free care. For registration information, please email

Do students share materials?

Any equipment shared by students (science, tech ed, FACs, etc.) will be thoroughly cleaned between student use. Individual student supplies, pencils, paper, etc., are not to be shared. 

Are visitors allowed in schools?

Presently no visitors are allowed in school buildings.

What are the HVAC systems like in the schools? How clean is the air?

For the past 15 plus years, district buildings have been equipped with tacky depth loading hospital-grade filters in all air handlers. The sticky substance on the outgoing side of the filter collects minute airborne particles that inadvertently make their way through the filter's front portion. Currently, maintenance changes the filters three times a year. The frequency of filter changes may increase during the pandemic, so air is as clean as possible. The amount of outside air brought into a building is equal to the amount exhausted to purge as many contaminants as possible.

Are Mental Health services available?

The COVID-19 Pandemic has created different types of mental health circumstances and high levels of stress for many of our staff, students, and families. Some may need a support system to help rebalance and refocus on the task of learning and being productive in a school. During Distance Learning, counselors and social workers will be available to address mental health and well-being. Click here for more information.

Additional Information

Visit the St. Francis Area Schools COVID-19 resource page