Return to School Update (August 5)

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Dear Eastern Carver County Schools Community:

I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting an update from the district about what the fall will look like for our students and staff with regard to health and safety protocols. My inbox has been filled with thoughtful, passionate emails from parents on both sides of the spectrum. While their perspectives may be different, they are all united with wanting what’s best for our students. On that, we are all united.

I know last year was challenging for all of us, and we ended the 2020-21 school year hoping very much we were closing the chapter on COVID-19 in our schools. Unfortunately, the pandemic is not yet over. We are a data-driven leadership team, and as we have deliberated over our options for the fall, we have poured over guidance from state and federal agencies. We have consulted with state and local partners. We have taken a deep dive into the state, county, and local transmission data. We have considered how the summer protocols worked to keep our students and staff safe while in our buildings. We have done this work guided by our key priorities of health, safety, and quality education. 

With all that in mind, we will start the school year this fall - in-person, five days a week - strongly recommending that all students and staff in our buildings, regardless of vaccination status, wear face coverings. At this time, we are not requiring face coverings. I know this community is divided over the issue of masks and not everyone will be happy with this decision. I want to be clear that we will continue to look at the data every week, and if we see cases start to rise or outbreaks in our buildings, we will revisit this decision. You can expect a monthly update from the district on what we are seeing as the year progresses.

You can see our full list of protocols on our 2021-22 Safe Learning Plan page. Our Safe Learning Plan also includes details on the mitigation strategies we have in place and the criteria we would consider before making any change on masking protocols.  

We know that some families may be uncomfortable returning to learning in-person. We will have an online option for our K-12 families. Online learning for our elementary students will be offered in multi-age online classrooms, grade K-1, 2-3, and 4-5, and taught by district teachers. Online learning for our 6-12th grade students will be supported by our staff, but offered in partnership with Southwest Metro Intermediate District. Families must commit to online learning for the entire 2021-22 school year. We are asking those families who want to register their children for online learning to fill out this form by Thursday, August 12.

Everything we do as a district is in service to our students. Our commitment to delivering a quality education in a healthy and safe environment is unwavering. I know every one of us wants to see our community’s children learning and flourishing in as normal an environment as possible. To do that, we must work together to be vigilant in the days and weeks ahead. We must keep our community’s numbers low, we must do everything we can to protect our families and each other.  

You were incredible partners last year, and I know, working together, we will see our children through whatever lies ahead. Thank you for your ongoing support of our district, and I cannot wait to see you all when we return in September.

Together,

Lisa Sayles-Adams

Superintendent