Minneapolis public schools switch to online learning starting Friday – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis public schools will temporarily switch to all-online learning starting Friday due to significant staffing issues.

Students will resume face-to-face instruction on January 31.

Superintendent Ed Graff said the aggressive wave of the virus had “seriously compromised” the district’s ability to conduct in-person education. As of Wednesday, 400 certified teachers were absent due to illness, and the district was only able to fill 45% of those roles.

Typically, 200 teachers are absent this time of year and 90 to 95 percent of those positions can be filled, Graff said. Absences do not include office staff, basic support, special education support or bus drivers.

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The challenges also extend to student attendance. Graff said some of the district’s high schools reported a 60% student absence rate last Friday, and he heard from parents worrying about the virus spreading in schools.

The plan to switch to e-learning was announced on Wednesday afternoon, and Graff hoped it would allow students to gather their materials and their families some time to prepare for the change.

Friday will be a “somewhat flexible” day for students and teachers to re-acclimatize to the online learning environment. Staff will spend the day communicating with students and solving technology issues. Then, on Tuesday, after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the school will have a “more traditional” program.

Graff said the ability to provide support “is really going to be a challenge” so families are encouraged to keep their children at home. However, students have the option of continuing to come to the school and complete their online learning in the building with support staff, which is a requirement under state law. Transportation will still continue and meals will be provided on site. Families learning at home can still purchase bagged meal kits.

Other districts in the state have also temporarily switched to e-learning. Schools in the Osseo area are online until January 24. Schools in Richfield, Roseville and Farmington have also all announced plans for online learning.

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