Greetings, Northfield Public Schools Parents:
Today was the official last day of the 2019-20 school year. Formal instruction ended last Friday. This week our elementary families finished their school year by having a closing conference with their child’s teacher. Middle school and high school teachers assisted students who needed additional assistance to complete the fourth quarter successfully. Once again, I thank you for your partnership during this historic and abrupt shift to educating our children via distance learning.
Your Input Needed: Distance Learning Survey No. 2
We want your input as we reflect on distance learning and our Spring term. This data will help us plan for 2020-21. Your response to a survey earlier this year helped us deepen our understanding and directly informed changes we made to our distance learning plans. Please take a moment to fill out the appropriate survey below for each of your children.
In addition to parent input, we are learning from our educators as well. This week, our staff spent a half-day reflecting on our distance learning experience from an instructional perspective. Forty (40) different groups reflected on what worked well and what could be improved.
Next School Year Planning
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has asked us to plan for three possible options for the 2020-2021 school year:
All students at school following CDC/MDH guidelines
All students using distance learning
A hybrid model, with some students using distance learning and some learning at school
We understand that MDE will provide guidelines to help districts plan for each of these possibilities in mid-June. MDE has stated they expect to have a decision about how we will start the school year by July 31. MDE has also said they expect to use more than one, if not all, of the models listed above during the 2020-2021 school year.
Our leadership team has begun exploring the scenarios above and what each could mean for our schools. Once again, I seek your patience as we work through many unknowns and strive to make the best decisions possible for our students. I will keep families and staff informed of our planning when there is new information to share. We will continue to broadcast updates via our website and schoology during the summer.
Beginning Monday, June 8, the Child Nutrition program will serve meals on Mondays and Wednesdays at all current locations. The meals will be bundled for multiple days. Meal bags will have two days of meals on Monday and three days of meals on Wednesday. Beginning July 1, the program will operate at reduced locations based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) summer food service program guidelines. Please continue to watch our website for further summer meal program information.
George Floyd and addressing systemic racism
As mentioned in my message last Friday, I am deeply disturbed by the tragic killing of George Floyd. Our nation continues to reel from his shocking death. Northfield Public Schools strives to prepare every student for lifelong success in a world-class learning environment. Racism and racist acts have no place here.
In addition to implicit bias and cultural competency training throughout the past year, our staff took time to reflect this week on how we address instances of racism, practices in place that promote equity, and practices in place that promote inequity. The training and reflections will drive changes that make our school culture equitable for every student.
Thank you for your support, understanding, flexibility, and forgiveness during our response to this global health pandemic and distance learning. There have been successes and failures. We have worked through it all together to make the best of a difficult situation. And we have learned from it.
As we move into summer, I implore our community to continue demonstrating compassion for those affected by COVID-19. Please resist rumor and gossip about those you may suspect have contracted this highly contagious illness. When the pandemic ends, I want us to be proud of how we treated our neighbors.
This message will be the final distance learning update for the school year. It is hard to believe I sent the first of 24 family updates on February 29, 2020. That seems like a lifetime ago. We will continue to update families this summer when new information is available.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools