How one state is planning for in-person summer school

Safety guidelines include grouping students into cohorts and holding some classes outside
By: | May 18, 2020
Grouping students and teachers into small cohorts is among the safety precautions schools in Minnesota will take to reopen for summer school. ( Narith Thongphasuk/EyeEm)Grouping students and teachers into small cohorts is among the safety precautions schools in Minnesota will take to reopen for summer school. ( Narith Thongphasuk/EyeEm)

Schools in Minnesota have been given the go-ahead to bring some students back for in-person summer school as long as administrators follow a new set of health and safety guidelines.

Schools can begin offering in-person classes at the end of this school year, though the state recommends waiting until late June, the Northfield News/Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

“By slowly turning the dial for school settings this summer, we can better serve Minnesota’s students and families, and provide more opportunities for the in-person learning and social interactions that are critical to learning,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement.

The state says any students can participate but has recommended that schools prioritize offering summer school to students who have struggled the most with online learning, the Northfield News reported. 

More from DAWhat does the CDC say about reopening schools?

School administrators reopening classrooms must follow the Minnesota Department of Health’s “Guidance for Social Distancing in Youth and Student Programs,” according to the newspaper.

School administrators should make sure all families understand the safety procedures, which include:

  • Social-distancing of at least 6 feet
  • Rearranging desks to maximize space between students
  • A staff-to-student ratio of 9-to-1 or lower
  • Creating cohorts of 10 staff members and students who stay together
  • Holding activities—such as music and art classes—outside
  • Staff should wear face coverings
  • Students should only wear face coverings if  “they can reliably wear, remove and handle the cloth face-covering throughout the day.”

Schools begin testing staff and student safety plans

In Northern California, three schools in Marin County have been chosen as pilots to test procedures for safely bringing students back to classrooms, the Marin Independent Journal reported.

Small groups of students will stay with the same teacher in the schools, where several new sanitation stations have been installed and staff will be required to wear masks, according to the newspaper’s website.

More from DASchools need billions more to open safely, union and PTA leaders say

The schools’ new QR-code mobile phone sign-in systems will track everyone who enters the buildings. If someone who has been in the school falls ill, administrators will be able to trace their contacts, the Marin Independent Journal reported.

How schools are reopening overseas

Schools around the world are taking various precautions as students return to classrooms.

In France, where a majority of schools have reopened, students age 11 and older must wear masks, ABC News reports.

In Australia, students in New South Wales go into school one day and work from home the rest of the week. In Denmark, teachers are holding classes outside as much as possible, according to ABC NEWS.

And in Shanghai, all students and staff pass through thermal scanners as they enter schools, ABC News reported.

DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.