Planning for Fall 2020

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the face of education, and in South St. Paul Public Schools it’s providing us an opportunity to rethink how we do school. Not only are we planning for the pandemic, we’re also considering innovative ways we might leverage this opportunity to give our students and families a more flexible school experience that better fits their needs. It’s a work in progress. See our updates throughout the summer.

    In the coming weeks staff, students, and families will be asked to provide insights and offer feedback on our plan. Stay tuned for more information!


    When will families know what schools will look like in the fall?

    We do not expect to have a finalized plan in place until the end of July. Governor Walz is expected to make a decision by the week of July 27 on what the reopening of schools will look like in Minnesota. 

    We are currently planning for three possible scenarios as identified by the state, which include:

    Scenario 1: In Person Learning

    • More like our regular school day with modifications for social distancing, when feasible.
    • This scenario may be implemented if state COVID-19 metrics continue to stabilize or improve.

    Scenario 2: Hybrid Learning

    • A unique combination of distance and in-person learning.
    • The goal is to limit the number of students in the building at one time to reduce the spread of illness.
    • This scenario may be implemented if COVID-19 metrics worsen at the local, regional or state level or if a school experiences clusters of cases.

    Scenario 3: Distance Learning

    • Similar to what we provided this spring, but improved upon based on all we’ve learned from students, families and staff experiences.
    • This scenario may be implemented if local, regional or statewide COVID-19 metrics worsens significantly enough to require suspension of in-person learning.

    Our goal for the fall is to ensure that all of our kids have a positive learning experience, and that we are meeting their academic, social and emotional needs. Our hope is to develop a solution that is flexible enough to give families options (specifically those at high risk for illness due to COVID-19), while also structured enough to ensure equitable experiences for every student.


    What can families expect when schools reopen

    The health and safety of our students, staff and families is of the utmost important. When the 2020-2021 school year begins, we expect it will look different than in previous years due to new health and safety measures enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect to offer options for families that include both on-campus and distance learning.

    PLEASE NOTE: The following health and safety guidance has been recommended based on current information and will be updated as the situation changes. 

    Screening at home:

    • Families are encouraged to take temperatures daily before sending children to school. Anyone with a fever of 100.0 or higher should not go to school. 
    • Children should be screened daily for any symptoms of COVID-19 including new onset of cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of sense of smell or taste, and gastrointestinal symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea.
    • Anyone experiencing symptoms should not attend school. 

    General safety precautions:

    • All classrooms, workspaces, outdoor spaces and playground areas will be disinfected following state guidelines
    • Physical barriers may be installed where social distancing is not possible
    • All students and staff will be encouraged to wash/clean their hands regularly
    • Handwashing stations with soap and/or hand sanitizer will be made available in each classroom
    • Schools will limit sharing of supplies between students and disinfect between uses if sharing is unavoidable

    Other safety considerations:

    • It is strongly recommended that face coverings be worn by staff and students (particularly older students), as feasible, and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult. We recognize face coverings may be challenging for some students to wear in an all-day setting, especially younger students or those with developmental, medical or behavioral needs
    • Gloves are not recommended for use by students or staff, with the exception of those conducting duties such as cleaning, food service and first aid. 

    Social distancing on buses, campuses and in classrooms:

    Social distancing will help limit the spread of the virus. We will consider the following strategies to maintain smaller groups of students in shared spaces, when feasible:

    • Limit the number of students on a school bus at one time
    • Mark six foot spacing in common areas to remind students and staff to always stay 6 feet apart
    • Limit non-essential visitors, volunteers and external groups/organizations on campus
    • Keep students in smaller groups, and where possible, keep student cohorts from mixing
    • Serve meals in small group settings with individually packaged meals whenever possible
    • Space desks further apart to ensure a minimum of 6 feet distance between students
    • Stagger arrival and departure, lunches, recess and other transition time
    • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups of people or activities that do not allow for social distancing, including assemblies, in-person field trips, etc.

    We may have to modify some courses and extracurricular activities and sports where social distancing is not feasible or where there is an increased risk for spreading the virus. Field trips, assemblies, dances and large events will not be held until restrictions on such activities are lifted at the state level.

    For a hybrid learning scenario, we’re exploring numerous ideas to limit the number of students in a school building at the same time. This may be done through a variety of scheduling options, such as half days, staggered start times, A/B Day schedules, and more. We’re also considering the needs of our families and developing plans for before and after school programs, as well as childcare opportunities that will vary to go along with any potential scheduling changes.  

    Our schools will work with students and families to ensure equity and access to quality instruction. Accommodations for students with disabilities, students with diverse learning needs, those who are medically vulnerable and English learners will be made as needed.


    Our commitment

    We are committed to helping EVERY ONE of our students be successful in ANY learning environment. Our plan will address not just their academic instruction, but also strive to meet their social and emotional needs. We’ll provide opportunities for them to connect with teachers and peers, build relationships, and have access to mental health and wellness services.