Shifting Models

Shifting to different learning models in a pandemic: What does the decision-making process in Eastern Carver County Schools look like?

All of our decisions are data-driven and student-centered.  Our work this school year has been focused on how to provide the best possible education in as healthy and safe an environment as possible. We look at the numbers every day, and more specifically we look at how our district is being impacted both as a system and at the building, grade, and classroom level.  It is not about a single number, or set of numbers, but a multitude of factors that impact our ability to serve our community of learners.

Our district, and other districts around us, have shifted recently to what the Minnesota Department of Education is calling the “scalpel approach.”  In Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller’s own words, this approach “allows school districts and charter schools within the same county to have different learning models. For example: a county may have four school districts within its boundaries which would give them all the same county base data; however, when each of the school districts review their community data and school data, their viral spread might be vastly different. As a result, some of the districts in that county may need to move to distance learning while others can remain in hybrid. Beyond this, some districts may have local factors or mitigation strategies that allow or prohibit students from accessing learning in person. This scalpel approach is why some school districts that have high county-level case data are still operating in an in-person or hybrid learning model.”

Our regular analysis of COVID-19-related data includes but is not limited to:

  • State, county, city, and district positive case information

  • District quarantine data

  • Staffing concerns

  • Impacts on routine

Any decision to shift learning formats is not made by the superintendent alone.  A collaborative approach is used, combining state and local expertise.  The district is in regular contact with Carver County Public Health and colleagues at the both the Minnesota Departments of Health and Education.  The School Board and Superintendent’s Cabinet - the assistant superintendent and directors of communications, community education, equity and inclusion, finance and operations, human resources, and specialized services - are all engaged in the work.  Ultimately the decision is made in partnership and by the approval of our Regional Support Team, which includes the district and representatives from MDE and MDH.