Minnesota Department of Education updates distance learning guide

Minnesota Department of Education updates distance learning guide


The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) updated its Distance Teaching and Learning Implementation Guidance on May 5, 2020.

This updated guidance is available on the MDE COVID-19 Updates webpage, the MSBA homepage and the MSBA COVID-19 webpage.

Here is what’s new from MDE in the May 5 update:

Creating Equitable Grading Systems During Distance Learning: MDE has partnered with P20 Educational Partnership to develop guidance to help decision-makers approach the creation of new assessment and grading systems with an equity mindset. The guidance can be found on the Student Instruction COVID-19 Resources webpage.

School Calendar Changes: Generally, districts and charter boards have authority to change their calendar. However, the commissioner strongly encourages school boards to honor their original school calendars for the following reasons:

  • Executive Order 20-41 directs schools to continue distance learning through the end of the school year. Shortening the school year is not in the spirit of the order.
  • Instruction and education matters. Ending the school year early sends the message to the public that the additional instructional days in your calendar were not needed or important.
  • Students and families will miss out on vital care and nutrition that they may not have the ability to replace on short notice.
  • We also know that students of color, indigenous students, students in poverty, and students with disabilities are being disproportionately impacted by the distance learning model. Depriving students of the full calendar of instruction that was scheduled will only further harm these students.

Continued Access to Technology: To the extent possible, the commissioner strongly encourages districts and charter schools to allow students who have access to district-provided technology (i.e. 1:1 devices and wireless hotspots) during distance learning to continue to have access to that technology during the summer months. As you know, during the stay-at-home order, students are missing out on important social and academic in-person interactions. The technology you have provided has helped students stay connected to their schools, friends, family and the community. In many cases, these devices are the only device in the household available for the family to have access to the internet. That means access to instructional materials, but also access to online information and applications for benefits, social connections, and COVID-19 related news and alerts.

We understand your ability to provide technology over the summer may be limited by budget constraints or vendor contracts. However, we encourage you to explore the funding flexibilities in Executive Order 20-41, grants and donations from private technology providers, and possible flexibilities with vendor contracts to come up with strategies to keep this important technology in the hands of students over the summer. If you have any questions, please reach out to COVID-19.Questions.MDE@state.mn.us.

Academic Engagement and Attendance: MDE has developed a Distance Learning MTSS Framework document, which outlines strategies to identify how academic engagement and attendance in a distance learning model fits into your current MTSS/RtI model. This guidance is found on the Supporting Students and Families COVID-19 Resources webpage.

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