Parents, teachers react to districts moving back school start dates

Over the last week, several school districts in the metro area voted to start school one week later than originally planned. Many of them say teachers and administrators need more time to prepare. 

On Tuesday night the Osseo Area School District voted to move the start of school from September 8th to September 14th. The decision was made exactly two weeks before what was supposed to be the start of the school year.

On Monday the Anoka-Hennepin School District voted to move the start of school back a week. Districts like Wayzata and Rosemount-Apple Valley-Egan are also starting a week later than originally planned.

“There’s all kind of stress and anxiety and it’s gotten worse now that everything seems to be so up in the air,” Osseo Area School District parent Marianne Erickson said.

Erickson has a kindergartener, third and fifth grader in the district.  As of now, all of her kids will start school in hybrid learning. Both her and her partner work full-time so distance learning is a challenge. She says they have made plans to send two of the kids to daycare two days a week when they aren’t in class but she’s worried the district will change plans again, forcing them to find new solutions.

On Tuesday the superintendent of the Osseo Area School District recommended doing distance learning for all students until October. The board voted against that recommendation. On Wednesday the superintendent wrote an email to parents saying they plan to call for another emergency school board meeting for “revised recommendations.” Erickson fears that will mean there will be another change so close to the start of the school year. 

“I thought we had a decision back in August. We could plan for that. We could plan our meetings around different things for the kids and now we’re back to square one,” Erickson said. 

The change has also been chaotic for some teachers. Kristin Elmquist is a teacher at Park Center High School, in the Osseo School District. She says the district is not prepared to go back to school. With some students choosing online-only learning, some teachers with medical issues not being able to come into the building and the creation of an online “academy” for the entire district, teachers are being shuffled around. 

:I normally teach government to seniors. I teach the [International Baccalaureate] history program but I could get who knows what. I could get a 7th grade social studies class and I’ve never worked in a middle school,” Elmquist said. 

Now, less than three weeks from the revised school start date, Elmquist isn’t sure what she’s teaching or how to prepare. 

“I’ve never been so less ready for the beginning of the school year,” Elmquist said. 
A spokesperson for the Osseo Area School District said teachers are expected to learn more about which building they are assigned to this week. They say they understand the changes have been difficult for students and parents saying “In a pandemic, change is our new normal so we are adjusting and planning as fast and effectively as we can.”