FAQ: MDE’s Summer Programming Guidance for Schools 

Updated: May 20, 2020

Disclaimer: This publication is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for specific legal or other professional advice. If you have specific questions about your legal or contractual rights, contact your Education Minnesota field representative. This guidance will be updated periodically based on new information and guidance, so please refer back to this link for the most current information.

What is the primary purpose of the guidance?
Allowing school districts and charters to choose to open their buildings for a hybrid model of in-school learning activities and distance learning for summer learning and extended school year services for students with IEPs.

What is a hybrid model of in-school and distance learning?
Students are on an alternative schedule of (A) being in the building while adhering to social distancing and (B) distance learning from home (i.e., A/B schedule).

What must a school do to implement a hybrid model?
The primary condition for a school to implement a hybrid model is for the school to adhere to the Minnesota Department of Health’s Guidance for Social Distancing in Youth and Social Programs. This is detailed guidance outlining practical application of prevention strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in youth and student programming. Key requirements from that guidance include:

  • Plan around and enforce social distancing – a maximum of 10 people in a room.
  • Modify classes where participants are likely to be in very close contact.
  • Rearrange desks and common seating spaces to maximize the space between participants.
  • Avoid community supplies when possible.
  • Promote cloth face coverings.
  • Encourage bag lunches from home.
  • Stagger meal times, serving them outside or in alternative indoor areas.
  • Stagger arrival and/or dismissal times.
  • Cancel field trips, assemblies and other large gatherings.
  • Use private playgrounds when appropriate safeguards are in place, such as staggering playground use, washing hands before and after use, and cleaning high touch areas of play structures between groups.
  • Avoid contact with shared public amenities like picnic tables, benches, and playgrounds.
  • Avoid taking multiple pods to the bathrooms at once.
  • Ensure daily cleaning of the environment including high-touch surfaces and bathrooms, which is fully explained in other guidance on cleaning and disinfecting in schools.
  • Limit nonessential visitors.
  • Exercise caution if allowing drinking fountains to be used at all – encourage students to use their own individual refillable water bottles.
  • Encourage and reinforce social norms and health etiquette.
  • Follow the daily health screening component of your school district’s plan. 

How many students can be in a room so to adhere to public health guidance?
Based on the size of typical classrooms, the guidance suggests a 1:6 staff-to-student ratio with a maximum of a 1:9 staff-to-student ratio (to not exceed 10 people in a room). If social distancing cannot be attained with a 1:6 staff-to-student ratio, then the number of students must be reduced.

May I get a copy of my school district’s hybrid plan? 
Yes, each school district must post a copy of its chosen summer learning model on its website at least one week prior to the start of the summer learning period.

How is the Minnesota Department of Education monitoring school districts’ hybrid plans?
Each school district and charter must notify the Minnesota Department of Education about their chosen summer learning models at least one week prior to the start of summer learning.

Will I have preparation time for the hybrid system?
Yes, school districts must provide educators with at least two planning days to prepare for the new system. 
Does this guidance affect the state’s plan for the fall?
No, however, the guidance states that the hybrid model could serve as a pilot for full implementation in the fall, if needed.
Can my school district continue distance learning for summer programming instead of implementing the hybrid model?
Yes, school districts can choose to continue the distance learning model for summer programming.  There is no requirement to create a hybrid model.  
Are there preferences for certain student populations for in-person learning under a hybrid model?
Yes, the expectation is that specific students with disabilities and multi-lingual learners will have additional opportunities to engage in face-to-face instruction. Multi-lingual learners and ESY students should receive additional opportunities for face-to-face instruction (e.g., an A/B/B schedule) in accordance with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Do I have to report in person for summer programming duty if required?
Consider all of your options and health issues before agreeing to summer work. If you have already agreed to summer work, you will likely have to fulfill that obligation depending on your circumstances. If you have new or unforeseen circumstances that keep you from fulfilling a summer school obligation, contact your local member rights advocate or Education Minnesota field staff for assistance.

What if I have a high-risk health condition and have agreed to do summer work?
The governor’s Executive Order on distance learning, as well as MDE’s summer school guidance, states that school districts must provide reasonable accommodations to educators with high-risk health conditions, such as chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, diabetes, serious heart conditions, etc. Accommodations include but are not limited to adjusting schedules or work stations, allowing employees to work from home or permitting use of leave. 

What if my school district opens with a hybrid model for summer learning, but the school is not adhering to social distancing or other public health guidelines?
Contact Education Minnesota staff as soon as you notice non-compliance with social distancing, public health guidelines or your school district’s hybrid plan generally. The governor has ordered that workers have the right to refuse to work under conditions that they, in good faith, reasonably believe present an imminent danger of death or serious physical harm. This can include a reasonable belief that they have been assigned to work in an unsafe or unhealthful manner with an infectious agent such as COVID-19. Your field staff can assist you in asserting this right. In addition, employers must not discriminate or retaliate in any way against a worker for the worker’s good faith refusal to perform assigned tasks if the worker has asked the employer to correct the hazardous conditions but they remain uncorrected.

When can my school district’s summer programming start under the guidance?
The guidance recommends late June, but allows schools to start when the school year ends.
How will student transportation function in a hybrid model?
Bussing services must continue as normal if a school district chooses a hybrid model.

Will students be able to continue to have access to district-provided technology during summer programming?
School districts are encouraged to allow continued student access to district-provided technology during summer programming. Schools are further encouraged to explore funding flexibilities created in recent executive orders. 

Will attendance practices change in a hybrid model?
No, the guidance encourages school districts to use existing engagement and attendance systems. 
Will grading practices change in a hybrid model?
Unless students are enrolled in summer programming for credit recovery for high school graduation, students should not receive grades. For students enrolled for credit recovery purposes, decision makers must approach the creation of new assessment and grading systems with an equity mindset. In collaboration with members, Education Minnesota has developed additional guidance on creating equitable grading, available here.