Minnesota school districts prepare for return to in-person learning

Lincoln Elementary School in Elk River is preparing to reopen in-person learning to students in kindergarten through 2nd grade on Jan. 19, 2021. (FOX 9)

School districts across Minnesota are returning to in-person education models as the state loosens up some of its pandemic restrictions.

One of those districts is ISD 728, which serves Elk River, Otsego and Rogers. At Lincoln Elementary School in Elk River, Principal Justin Sperling is getting ready to welcome back his youngest learners on Tuesday.

"It’s just been a whirlwind. A whirlwind," said Sperling. "I’ve been impressed at the resiliency not only of our students, our families and our staff, how flexible they’ve been throughout all this."

Across this large northwest metro district, students in kindergarten through second grade are scheduled to resume their schoolwork at spread-out desks with masked staff that may at times, be wearing a face shield or possibly be positioned behind protective Plexiglass.

Principal Sperling believes his team is ready.

"I want to make sure we can adequately staff the building," he said. "That was biggest obstacle we ran into in the fall. As building principal, that was very stressful for me. If we can keep staff and adults healthy, I am confident they’ll have practices in place to keep our students healthy too."

In the cafeteria, there will be a limit of three kids to a table.
"We’re going to try to get some of our youngest students in there and spread out lunchtime, so kindergartners and 1st graders can still eat in the cafeteria and follow those safety and spacing guidelines," said Sperling.

In the meantime, the big question for many educators is when will they get vaccinated? Officials report ISD 728 has access to a total of 25 COVID-19 doses that will be administered later this week in a still yet to be determined order.