Inside tour of kindergarten classroom prepared for in-person learning

Hope Academy parents will be making the decision whether or not their student will be attending school in-person or solely through distance learning this year.

As the beginning of the school year nears, learning plans amid the pandemic are still taking shape.

While some of the large, metro area school districts that have already committed to starting the year with distance learning, Hope Academy, a private school in Minneapolis that serves a diverse population of about 600, is letting parents decide.

Elementary-aged students can attend class 100% of the time, or they can learn from home 100% of the time. The older kids get a choice of a hybrid schedule where they are in school a couple days a week, or again, a 100% distance learning set-up.

Technology and robotics teacher Kayla Kauffman says she is excited to return to the classroom at Hope Academy near downtown Minneapolis this fall. She says she believes the necessary health and safety protocols are in place to protect students and staff during a pandemic.

“I think any teacher’s biggest concern is a student gets sick,” said Kauffman. “That is the only real concern I have. What I have confidence in, is that we’re doing everything to keep it from happening.”

Hope Academy's top administrator Russ Gregg gave FOX 9 a tour Thursday of a kindergarten classroom undergoing a redesign complete with Plexiglas dividers, a spaced out circle-time floor plan and individualized supplies for every student.

In addition, everyone entering the building before the first bell rings will go through a temperature check at the front door.

“We put a lot of work this summer building safety protocols and procedures that we think can keep students safe,” said Gregg.

Senior, Ennaoj Reed, knows what she wants.

“It’s my last year,” said Reed. “Been at Hope since kindergarten. I don’t know everything that’s going to happen this year, but since it is my final year, I want to do everything I possibly can in-person.”

“Yes, things happen in the world. Life happens,” said Tunisunia Reed, a Hope Academy parent. “I can honestly say as a parent, I’m not afraid to send my kids out to school.”

Hope Academy is giving parents through Friday night to make their final decision on whether their student will learn in the classroom or rely on distance learning curriculum.

“I appreciate the flexibility it gives families to decide,” said Rene Gonzalez, a Hope Academy parent. “Pray, talk about it and make the wisest decision for your household. For us, I feel confident about them coming here.”

“It’s a learning curve for everybody, flexibility is the name of the game here,” said Kauffman.