WORTHINGTON — As we look toward the 2020-2021 school year, Independent School District 518 acknowledges that the situation will test many important aspects of education. That includes an equitable education for all, the ability to adapt to different situations and the safety of students, staff and the entire District 518 community. District 518 administration and many staff members have continued to work through the summer months to be sure the district has a plan that can be adapted and modified while delivering an excellent education to all students in a health-conscious way.

In June, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released a statement asking school districts to prepare three possible scenarios for the start of the new school year. These three scenarios included starting in a traditional learning environment while implementing new social distancing practices, continuing with a distance learning only model, or a hybrid of the two options that asks students to attend school one to two times a week and reduces the number of students in facilities by including aspects of distance learning. Since that announcement, District 518 has developed plans for each of the three scenarios through the combined efforts of administration and staff members.

A team of over 40 people have worked together, following all social distancing guidelines put forward and developing three plans that may be utilized in the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. This team of 40 people included district staff from general education, the English learners department, special education, mental health and counseling, community education, the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, paraprofessionals, school nurses and administration from each district facility.

MDE has reported that a recommendation to say what plan schools should utilize this fall is coming the week of July 27. District 518 will have all three plans ready to use when this recommendation is set out, though it may take a small amount of time to finalize details in the chosen plan. The other two options will not be scrapped, however, as the district wishes to remain nimble and able to switch to a different plan should the need arise at any point.

Included in District 518’s planning considerations is the newly issued Executive Order 20-81. This order mandates that masks be worn in indoor public spaces and indoor businesses. This includes school facilities within District 518. Families will be asked to provide masks for their student(s) to use while in district facilities.

Parker Sandhurst is District 518's communications coordinator.