Although the sun just finished setting on the 2019-20 school year, due to the level of uncertainty that COVID-19 has caused in many facets of our lives, people are wondering what will happen with school this fall.  We have been discussing various possible scenarios while awaiting guidance from the governor’s office and the Minnesota Department of Education. 

The beginning of that guidance came to us last Thursday during a conference call with Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Ricker and a document outlining both requirements and recommendations. 

This is what we know so far ... 

Gov. Tim Walz is scheduled to make a decision regarding the opening of Minnesota schools during the week of July 27. 

In the meantime, we have been asked to plan for three different scenarios:

Scenario 1:  In-person learning for all students.  (Normal school with students returning to the classroom.)

Scenario 2:  Hybrid learning with strict social distancing and capacity limits.  (This means a combination of in-person, face-to-face instruction combined with some distance learning.) 

Scenario 3:  Distance learning only. 

The positives: 

1. We know how to do scenario No. 1 very well!  Let’s hope for that!

2. We got better at scenario No. 3 during the course of the distance learning period this spring.  Our own learning, plus the feedback from our parents and students should mean that this is an even better experience moving forward if we are required to return to distance learning.

The challenge:

Scenario No. 2.  The hybrid model brings some very unique and robust challenges.  It will take some significant planning to navigate a hybrid plan. 

We have a lot of planning to do, but we also have time between now and when Walz makes his announcement to figure out the details.  Plus, we will have a few weeks following that announcement to iron out any kinks in the plan before school opens on Sept. 8. 

We will continue to communicate plans as appropriate, however, please bear in mind that we will be waiting for the final direction from Walz at the end of July.  In the meantime, I hope that each of you enjoy a healthy and happy summer!


Jeff Drake is the superintendent of Fergus Falls Public Schools.

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