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Bloomington Public Schools will start year completely online

The district said a hybrid model wasn't feasible given current conditions.

Bloomington Public Schools will start the school year completely online, its school board decided Tuesday.

The district of more than 10,000 students will start the school year with a “Distance Learning 2.0” model. The model is based off of feedback from parents, student and staff and will allow for fully remote learning. This includes a combination of virtual meetings, interactive class sessions and pre-recorded videos.

According to a statement from Bloomington Public Schools, the district had considered hybrid models that included both remote and in-person instruction, but that it wasn’t feasible in the end.

That's in no small part due to the fact that 25% of staff members requested to work from home for health reasons, meaning there would not be enough staff in school to proceed with the hybrid model.

The state's guidance for schools is that teachers and staff members should be permitted to work from home whose health is at risk from COVID-19, or they have a family member whose health is at risk.

The district will go ahead with distance learning to start with, despite 70% of parents preferring the hybrid model.

“It became clear in our work that the issues and challenges of creating a viable district-wide staffing plan for the hybrid and flex learning models, while balancing parent preferences with staff requests for accommodations based on health concerns, were too great to ensure a quality educational experience for every child,” the statement reads.

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The district plans to reevaluate the instruction model in late September or early October. Classes will begin Sept. 8.

Bloomington Public Schools also announced its athletic programs would proceed in accordance with guidelines from Minnesota State High School League.

The MSHSL has voted to move forward with sports including boys and girls cross country, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis and girls swim and dive. Football and volleyball will be moved to the spring.

Last month, Gov. Tim Walz announced school reopening guidelines that include, in-person learning, hybrid learning or remote learning. The plan advises school districts to take into account a county’s COVID-19 infection rate when deciding on an instruction model.

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