Northland School Districts Still Preparing For The Fall

"We are running a lot of different scenarios, but it's really based upon what the state actually tells us what we can do. We don't actually get to decide," said Wayne Whitwam, superintendent of Hermantown Schools.

NORTHLAND, Minn. – The uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis is causing school districts across the nation, including in Minnesota, to create appropriate plans for the upcoming school year.

School districts in Minnesota have been given three options from the state for possible strategies to implement in the fall, but all come with their own challenges.

Both Duluth and Hermantown school districts are continuing to iron out the details of how to potentially use each alternative.

Those options now include a total distance learning mode or the possibility of returning to in-person instruction.

The third plan would be a combination of both.

The new Hermantown Schools superintendent said although they are working on figuring out the best course of action, it’s still a waiting game.

“We are coming up with all sorts of ideas like do we bring half the students back and keep the other half at home,” said Wayne Whitwam. “We are running a lot of different scenarios, but it’s really based upon what the state actually tells us what we can do. We don’t actually get to decide.”

Each scenario could potentially pose many challenges.

The Duluth Public Schools’ biggest issue continues to be the lack of internet access for many students in their homes.

A statewide survey also uncovered this was also one of the many reasons many parents were not satisfied with the academic experience during the school closures.

John Magas, superintendent for Duluth Public Schools said, “it was all a flip of a switch without time to prepare. What we will do this summer is to make sure the planning we put in place allows for learning to be as high quality and engaging as possible.”

Magas also believes it will take a community approach to ensure students are getting the best education.

The district is planning to send out surveys to parents for their input to provide more guidance on how to achieve that academic excellence.

Minnesota is planning to release further recommendations for the upcoming school year, including how many students can be in school facilities at a time, in the next few weeks.

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