Two more Twin Cities school districts will move to 100% distance learning for grades 6-12 beginning in early November.
District 196, the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district, in the south metro approved a plan Thursday night to move all middle and high school students to 100% distance learning beginning Nov. 12, also announcing that the current fall sports season can continue while limiting the winter sports to practices only.
Meanwhile, on Friday morning, the Osseo Area Schools (ISD 279) voted to move all secondary students (grades 6-12) to 100% distance learning beginning Nov. 9. Elementary grades will remain in the hybrid model.
ISD 196 is the fourth-largest district in Minnesota with more than 29,000 students and includes Apple Valley, Eagan, Eastview and Rosemount high schools. There are also six middle schools and 19 elementary schools in the district.
The timing of the announcement falls in line with the district's COVID-19 protocols, which calls for distance learning for all middle and high school students once the county infection rate for Dakota County reaches 28 cases per 10,000 residents.
The state health department on Thursday released updated county infection rates, and Dakota County was at 29.05 – anything over 30 calls for distance learning for grades 6-12 and a hybrid model for elementary schools.
The practice-only rules for District 196 winter sports will affect the following athletics and activities, as defined by the Minnesota State High School League:
- Adapted floor hockey
- Alpine skiing
- Nordic Ski Racing
- One Act Play
- Swimming and diving (boys)
Osseo Area Schools is home to four high schools: Maple Grove, Osseo, Park Center and the Osseo Area Learning Center. It also is home to four middle schools and 17 elementary schools.
The decision to move to distance learning for middle and high school grades follows Anoka-Hennepin, the state's largest district, moving to distance learning beginning Nov. 4.
The Anoka-Hennepin's board voted to continue fall sports, which is allowed by the Department of Education because school-level transmission of COVID-19 isn't as high as the county-wide rate.
It's why the education department has moved to what Deputy Commissioner Heather Mueller calls a "scalpel approach," essentially allowing districts and schools to review COVID-19 under a microscope rather than from a full county perspective.
"Taking into account their local building-level data, we do not believe that Anoka-Hennepin’s data is yet reflecting that they had to move to distance learning due to prevalence of COVID in their community," a spokesperson from the Department of Education told Bring Me The News on Wednesday.
The spokesperson said the Department of Education is "supportive of schools being more conservative with their learning models," and that "schools who choose to be more conservative than the data indicates could continue offering activities."