Once again, I hope this message finds your family safe and healthy. The purpose of this update is to ask once again for families to complete our return-to-school surveys, provide some information about the upcoming school year, and to ensure families know about an important food security program. As of this morning, we have responses for 1,333 of our 4,200 students for our return-to-school survey.
Return-to-School and Benjamin Bus Survey
To aid in our planning, we need every family to complete our return-to-school survey. The “why” behind this survey is to gather information about your family’s level of comfort with each of the three return-to-school scenarios identified by the Minnesota Departments of Education (MDE) and Health (MDH). You can read more about the return-to-school scenarios here.
Also, there is a form in the Family Access portal of our website to officially designate your transportation needs for Benjamin Bus. Please complete that form as well.
These surveys are available within the Family Access portal. If you are not familiar with the portal, it is available on the home screen of our website (northfieldschools.org). Once you have logged into Family Access, please complete the surveys for each student in your family.
If you do not currently have an account set up in Family Access, follow these directions to complete your survey. If you need further assistance, please contact Christine Neset via email or telephone at 507.645.3445.
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) and Free School Meals
There is a temporary food benefit available to Minnesota families with children who would have received free or reduced-price meals if schools were open. Families with eligible children who apply will receive a lump sum payment of $325 per child on a P-EBT card. NEW Summer P-EBT provides an additional $100 per child in August. The deadline for this program is July 31, 2020. Please see this flyer for further information.
Also, the District continues to provide free meals for families. See this post for more information.
2020-21 School Year
During the week of July 27, Governor Walz is expected to announce a decision about how schools will begin the 2020-2021 school year. Our understanding, based on numerous calls with the Minnesota Department of Education, is that it will be a state decision, not a local decision (at least to start.) Our planning teams have been working diligently to prepare for the three outlined scenarios: in-person, a hybrid approach with some students learning on campus and some learning remotely at home, and distance learning. The complexities are seemingly endless. We are working to solve problems around transportation, health screenings, building logistics, and curriculum prioritization, to name just a few.
What I know for sure is that the Governor’s decision will be welcomed by some and not by others. Not everyone will be pleased with the decision. That is reality.
Please know we will do our best to provide the safest on-campus environment as practicable by using reasonable virus prevention strategies. We will do our best to make distance learning an improved experience for everyone. As a school district, we are unequivocally committed to continuous improvement. We will get a lot of things right this school year and will get some things wrong. When something is not as good as it should be, we will work to make it better. No one has done this before, so we must ask for your continued cooperation and grace.
Families should also anticipate that school districts will most likely use two, if not three, of the MDE scenarios during this school year. We may have to shift in and out of the three scenarios with limited notice.
Our planning for these scenarios will be reviewed each academic quarter. While minor technical changes can be made during an academic quarter, any significant changes to our approach to the three scenarios will be made at a quarter break.
Regardless of the Governor’s decision, Northfield Public Schools will offer a totally online learning option for those families who are uncomfortable with sending their students back to school at all. Details of this approach will be shared in a future update. If you are concerned at all about your children returning to school, I want you to know we will provide an option for you that will involve Northfield Public Schools teachers.
While we have all become more accustomed to living with COVID-19 among us, it is still a pandemic. It is still a situation that changes unpredictably. Much patience and flexibility have already been required of us. More will be needed. I have been proud of how our Northfield Public Schools community has acted during this global health crisis. We have prioritized public health while supporting the needs of our friends and neighbors. I, too, wish that COVID-19 would just go away. We know that is not how this virus works. I remain confident that our community will continue to rise to the challenges presented. Together.
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools