‘Education cannot come to a standstill’

Tracy Area High School Supt. Chad Anderson holds up a protective face shield that could be used as an option for students who have breathing issues and cannot wear a mask. Anderson led a planning meeting Tuesday to discuss the upcoming school year. Photo / Per Peterson

Tracy Area Public Schools will most likely start 2020-21 school year in ‘hybrid’ mode

Given the green light to move ahead with developing its own learning plan for the upcoming school year, District No. 2904 stakeholders met Tuesday evening to begin to delve into the issue.

The district’s “TAPS Reopening for the 2020-21 School Year” planning meeting for stakeholders included school administration, two school board members, four teachers, three paraprofessionals, transportation and food service directors, a trio of high school students, one coach, one parent and one member of the district’s custodial team. The goal of the meeting was to come up with a final recommendation to offer to the District No. 2904 School Board about what the plan could be for going back to school in September.

Because of the urgency surrounding a back-to-school decision, the regular August school board meeting was moved from Aug. 17 to Aug. 10, when the board will make a final determination on what path the district should follow.

“We were all hoping that things would change this spring and we would be back to normal at this time, but it didn’t quite work out that way,” Tracy Area High School Supt. Chad Anderson told attendees at the meeting. “We’ll get back in the school at some level, the key is keeping us here. I know a lot of the things we’re doing people don’t care for … a lot of it will be inconvenient and things that people don’t want to do.”

The decision-making process, Gov. Tim Walz said last week, centers on the health, safety and the wellbeing of students, staff, and families by using the level of viral activity in the school’s home county and other factors such as the district’s ability to meet mitigation requirements. Working with departments of Health and Education, school districts can determine what learning model will work best for them.

Under the governor’s “Safe Learning Plan” to start the school year, school districts have the option of using one of the three models — if the data supports their choice: in-person, distance learning, or a hybrid model, which would blend in-person and distance learning.

The MDH will use data from counties to determine a base learning model for public schools, and the MDE will share county data and the consultative process for public schools to engage with education and public health experts to review their county health data and safe learning plans.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.