Reopening Schools for Early Learning and Elementary Grades

December 28, 2020

Good afternoon Roseville Area Schools families,
As we shared with you earlier this month, Governor Walz released new guidance for when and how schools are able to return to in-person learning. The state's updated Safe Learning Plan allows us to begin transitioning our youngest students back to in-person learning with new guidelines on how to keep students and staff safe and healthy.
The new guidance recognizes the greater information scientists and public health experts now have about COVID-19 and its transmissibility among children and adults. Infection rates in Ramsey County and in our community have fallen dramatically in recent weeks, and are projected to be in the range of 30–40 positive cases per 10,000 residents in the first week of January. At the peaks in November and December, the county rate was more than 120 cases per 10,000 residents. The numbers are clearly moving in the right direction, and the ability to safely bring students back to in-person learning is a milestone that many of us have been longing for. 
Creating this plan was a collaborative effort that included input from families through our Roadmap to Return Advisory Committee, as well as the participation of staff. Even with safety measures in place, we know that some families will prefer to remain in full-time distance learning, and that option will remain available for the entire school year. Families with students in elementary grades will receive a letter from the district in the coming days indicating whether you had previously intended for your student to continue in the Distance Learning Academy, or if you wanted your student to transition to in-person learning. Please watch for this letter and instructions on how to inform your students' school(s) of a change in your preference.
We are carefully reviewing health guidance and staffing while collaborating with our school administrators to determine a timeline for the return of students with significant special education needs for in-person services. More information will be communicated as plans are completed. 
While the state's guidance does not accelerate the return of students in secondary grades to in-person learning, we are hopeful that falling COVID-19 numbers will make it possible to make a transition for our older students soon. We will continue to keep you informed as those plans take shape.

Phased transition plan

Elementary students will begin a phased transition to in-person learning four days per week beginning Jan. 26, attending in-person Monday through Thursday with an asynchronous learning day from home on Fridays. After spring break, we will transition elementary grades to five-days a week in person, with the length of the school day reduced by 30 minutes to allow for teacher planning.
While state guidance permits districts to begin the transition on Jan. 18, we are beginning ours a week later so that we can make staffing adjustments to match with changes families may request in their preferred learning model. State guidance only allows three K – 6 grade levels to return to in-person learning at one time, with a two-week delay in between each group. There will be three non-school days in advance of each group returning, to allow teachers to plan and prepare their classrooms.
The phased transition will follow this schedule:
Jan. 20 – 22:
Grades K – 1 transition days (no in-school or distance learning for K – 1, grades 2 – 6 remain in distance learning on these days).
Jan. 26:
Grades K – 1 begin in-person learning four days per week (Monday – Thursday). 
Feb. 1:
Early Childhood Special Education begins in-person. 
Feb. 3 – 5:
Pre-K and grades 2 – 4 transition days (no in-school or distance learning for pre-K and grades 2 – 4, grades 5 – 6 remain in distance learning on these days). 
Feb. 8:
Pre-K and grades 2 – 4 begin in-person learning four days per week (Monday – Thursday). 
Feb. 9  11:
Harambee grades 5  6 transition days (no in-school or distance learning for Harambee grades 5 – 6).
Feb. 17 – 19:
Grades 5 – 6 transition days (no in-school or distance learning for grades 5 – 6) except for Harambee (on intersession). 
Feb. 22: 
Grades 5 – 6 begin in-person learning four days per week (Monday – Thursday) except for Harambee (on intersession). 
March 8:
Harambee grades 5 – 6 begin in-person learning four days per week (Monday – Thursday). 
March 15: 
Grades K – 6 in-person learning switches to five days per week, with school-day shortened by 30 minutes. 

Health and safety measures

The Minnesota Department of Education also released new safety protocols for students and staff learning and teaching in-person, including:
  • Requiring masks for students at all times indoors (except while eating), including during indoor physical education (PE) and recess. Masks will not be required during outdoor PE and recess.  
  • Requiring that students maintain a three-foot distance from each other at all times.
  • Requiring staff to wear both masks and face shields at all times while working in-person with students, while maintaining a six-foot distance from students and other adults.
  • Requiring that students remain in their classroom for some specialist lessons depending upon the specific building facilities. Students may leave their classroom for recess and PE in a gym or outside. Additionally, the guidance allows for lunch and breakfast to be served in the cafeteria with social distancing in place. This may look different from school to school.
  • Making on-site COVID-19 testing available every two weeks for teachers and staff who work directly with students.  
I want to thank you again for your incredible patience during this unprecedented time. More than ever, we need to continue to follow health and safety protocols, including wearing a mask and socially distancing whenever we are in public, washing our hands often, avoiding large crowds, staying home if experiencing symptoms, and getting a COVID-19 test if we are not feeling well. Working together, we will be able to see each other again soon.
Dr. Aldo Sicoli

P.S. Please find the latest information about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic at
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