St. Paul Public Schools to begin hybrid learning for special education students

St. Paul Public Schools offices. (FOX 9)

Later this month St. Paul Public Schools will begin Stage 1 of its hybrid learning plan, which allows for more than 500 students in the district's special education programs to return to the classroom.  

SPPS Superintendent Joe Gothard says leaders decided to start this transition based on local COVID-19 data and evaluating the 23 readiness targets, which include staffing levels, a transportation plan and health protocols for schools.

Stage 1 of the hybrid plan will start on Monday, Oct. 19 for the following programs:

  • Bridgeview School
  • Focus Beyond School
  • The Downtown School (JDC)
  • Care & Treatment program 
  • Hospital program
  • River East
  • Journeys

Families with students in Stage 1 will receive more information in the coming days. Those who are not comfortable with returning to school have the option to register for distance learning for the entire school year.

About 650 staff members will be involved in Stage 1 of the hybrid plan.

Thursday, some SPPS teachers voiced frustration over the return to the classroom amid the pandemic. Teachers from St. Paul and Minneapolis marched on the Lake Street bridge in solidarity to call attention to their safety concerns.

Friday, the St. Paul Federation of Educators released a statement from President Nick Faber saying staff would be ready to return for Stage 1, but called for clearer plans for teachers for the hybrid model.

"We believe we can bring most of our students with special needs back to school in stage 1 and keep them safe," said Faber in the statement. "Saint Paul educators demand that safety protocols are clear for everyone involved so we can protect our community, especially our medically fragile students. We also want clear expectations for working with students in person and online; it is impossible to do two jobs at once and the district has to discuss with us how we will serve all families sufficiently."

On Oct. 14, SPPS will determine if the district can transition into another learning stage on Nov. 16. Families with students in those stages will receive surveys to fill out about their readiness to shift into hybrid learning.