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Back-to-School 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated 8/13/2020

Will distance learning be interactive between teachers and students?

There will be more interactive time with teachers in a full distance learning model this year. Students will have independent work time (asynchronous learning) that is scheduled during their day as well as interactive learning time with teachers and classmates (synchronous learning).  The synchronous learning time may be large group, small group, individual time, etc. Teachers will also record instruction and post videos on our new learning management system called Schoology, which students and parents can interact with as needed.

Will my student have a set schedule for distance learning?

We are working with teachers to develop the distance learning schedules so families will know the expectations and it can be clearly communicated. We will be sharing this information in the coming weeks.

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

We looked at a variety of information when we planned the hybrid schedule. Our buildings will be disinfected every night, whether or not the same students would return the next day or not. Given that information, Group A students are in-person Monday/Wednesday and virtual learning Tuesday/Thursday/Friday. Group B are in-person Tuesday/Thursday and virtual learning Monday/Wednesday/Friday. This schedule allows for a nearly balanced amount of in-person days between the two groups for Trimester 1 (September 8-December 3). 

How will distance learning be different this fall than last spring?

One of the major differences you will see this year is our use of Schoology as our learning management system (LMS). All teachers pre- kindergarten to grade 12 will be using Schoology as the base for their 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. Students will log into Schoology and then will not need to leave that platform. Parents will also have a Schoology login that will help them stay in contact with teachers, view student progress, and see what assignments are coming up, for example.

Will elementary students still have their specials?

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

Will we have altered starts for the first day of school for kindergarten and grades 6 and 9 like we did last year?

With all the unknowns for the start of this school year, we have opted to not have the altered start. We hope to resume it again next year. 

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.

What does a day look like for the kids? 

We will try to keep the days as similar as possible to what students are accustomed to. We want it to feel as normal as possible. Students will follow a schedule as they have in the past, have different teachers for different subjects, etc. We will try to limit how much they move around the building so they will not be interacting with other students outside of their grade level, when possible.

Can we switch from hybrid to distance learning during the first trimester? 

Yes. Parents/guardians can switch their student from hybrid to distance learning. However, if a family chooses distance learning, they are making a commitment to distance learning for the entire trimester.

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

Yes. Students will have access to the same classes in a hybrid or distance learning model. Some classes, such as band, for instance, will look a bit different in the distance learning model than the hybrid since there will not be any in-person instruction, but all the courses will be offered in both models.

Will students be sharing materials?

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

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

In the hybrid model, two in-person days each week will look like a traditional school day. Students will follow a typical school schedule. Some modifications are being made to the schedule to allow for less students in the hallways during passing time and lunches, for example. During the in-person days, teachers will also prepare  students for their virtual learning days. The virtual days (three days a week) during a hybrid model are called asynchronous learning. There will not be live interaction with teachers. Students will be independently learning, building on what they learned during their in-person days and preparing for their next in-person day. A new learning management system, Schoology, will assist in providing a platform for students to complete assignments, submit work, etc.

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

No. We are not able to accommodate family requests for hybrid schedules.

If I choose hybrid and my child has a cold or allergies (normal sickness kids 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/conditions. 

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

We have been using tackified depth loading hospital-grade filters in all of our air handlers for the past 15+ years. The tackified substance on the outgoing side of the filter collects minute airborne particles that inadvertently make their way through the front portion of the filter. Currently, we change filters three times each year. We are increasing that frequency during this pandemic. The amount of the increase will change as we see the numbers of cases change, so we can provide air that is as clean as possible. We are also increasing the amount of fresh outside air we are bringing into the building and, in turn, exhausting an equal amount to purge the building from any contaminants as much as possible.

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

We will not be taking temperatures at the entrances to schools and other district buildings. The Center for Disease Controls is not currently recommending this since a fever is only one symptom that may indicate that a child has COVID-19. Parents will be asked to monitor their children for symptoms at home and keep them home if they are displaying any signs of illness, including fever. Staff will be asked to monitor their symptoms as well and not report to work if they are feeling ill.

Are masks required for students and staff?

Yes. Staff and students are required to follow the Governor’s Executive Order 20-81. Students who have medical or other health conditions, disabilities, mental health, developmental or behavioral needs that make it difficult to tolerate wearing a face covering are exempt from wearing a face covering under this order. Please note that face shields are also acceptable in the classroom. Students will not be required to wear masks when outside. 

One cloth face covering will be given to each student and staff member. Disposable masks will be available, when needed.

What happens when someone tests positive?

Step 1: Superintendent contacts service cooperative lead immediately of positive case

Step 2: Service cooperative contacts the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)

Step 3: MDH notifies regional team

Step 4: MDH guides school in next steps

No testing would occur at the school.

What does the hand sanitation schedule look like so that when kids are constantly touching their faces with masks on they are not putting themselves at additional risk?

This is going to be a difficult task for both staff and students, especially for our younger students. Our goal is to provide as much education to students/staff on proper mask use, but we know that it is difficult for children and adults to avoid touching their face/mask.

Where will students eat lunch?

In the hybrid model, we are able to fill the cafeterias to 50 percent capacity. Principals are working on lunch schedules that allow for students to use the cafeterias at this capacity.

Will Tier 1, essential worker childcare, be offered again this year?

If the elementary schools are in a hybrid or distance learning model childcare will be offered to essential workers similar to last spring. More information will be provided soon on this service.

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

Please click here to find the latest data available from MDH regarding COVID-19.

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

When can I see my student’s schedule in Infinite Campus?

Schedules will be released before the first day of school
(September 8)

Will visitors be allowed?

At this time no visitors will be allowed in the buildings or classrooms.

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

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

Additional Information

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

Infographic: Hybrid Learning School Health & Safety Measures
Infographic: Hybrid Learning Classroom Health & Safety Measures