Minneapolis Public Schools planning to start school year with distance learning for all grades

Minneapolis Public Schools plan to start the school year this fall with a distance learning model for all grades amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school board held a meeting Tuesday night to go over Back-to-School plans. The superintendent presented the latest recommendations which, covers five different phases that could be entered at various points throughout the school year, ranging from full distance learning at home to full in-person learning in schools. 

As of right now, it appears MPS will start the school year on Sept. 8 in what is classified as Phase 2, which is distance learning with in-person support available. This phase gives MPS the ability to reopen buildings to provide "targeted support such as tutoring, technology and mental health support to students and families."

A spokesperson for the school district says the plan is pending official guidance from Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Education, who are set to announce Thursday their recommendations for the 2020-21 school year. The School Board listened to the recommendations, but ultimately decided to wait for the governor's guidance before taking further action.

Earlier this summer, MDE strongly encouraged school districts to plan for one of three scenarios happening this fall: in-person learning, distance learning or a hybrid of the two. 

The School Board has yet to sign off on the plan. 


Phase 1: Distance learning

Phase 1 is the phase MPS says schools were in from March 2020 through July 2020 with all instruction and student supports provided through a virtual platform. MPS says it is possible it dial back to this phase later in the year based on the governor’s orders in relation to the pandemic. 

Phase 2: Distance learning with supports

The school year will likely start off in Phase 2 with distance learning as the primary instruction model, although schools can reopen to provide targeted support such as tutoring, technology and mental health support to students and families

Phase 3: Hybrid learning—add in-person, in school supports

Phase 3 is anticipated to take effect sometime during the first quarter of the school year, which would allow “targeted student supports” to be added in-person in schools. Some school staff will also be allowed to return to the building for lab experiences and the exchange of paper materials, among other things. 

The majority of learning will continue to be done virtually, however. 
Phase 4: Hybrid learning—schools open on a limited basis 

Phase 4 is a hybrid distance/in-person model where schools would reopen on a limited basis. Kindergarten and elementary schools would return to in-person learning, possibly on a rotating schedule while middle and high schools would continue distance learning. 

There is not an anticipated timeframe for starting this phase. 

Phase 5: Return to full in-person learning in schools

Phase 5 would be full in-person school with the potential for extracurricular offerings. There is not an anticipated timeframe for starting this phase either.