Schools to stay closed until May 2; distance learning to continue

Governor Walz announced on March 25 that Minnesota schools would remain closed until May 4, requiring the Minnesota Department of Education to assist schools in distance learning. Districts will continue to provide childcare options and meals for students during the school closures, with local districts providing direction on the administration of these services.

The Minnesota Department of Education continues to provide guidance to school districts on how to provide online resources for schools. Local school websites will carry information for distance learning, so parents should consult those for up-to-date information and lessons.

The federal Department of Education has authorized waivers of statewide assessments for this year; MDE has already applied for that waiver, and the public can provide feedback here. The comment period ends at 4 pm on March 27.

Spring is also the season for high school students to take Advanced Placement exams. The College Board announced at-home digital testing so AP students can still take this year’s exam. The exam content will focus on what most schools were able to complete by early March. Students will be able to take their exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. Students may also write responses by hand and submit a photo. Details are available online, and AP teachers have also received this information.

Beginning March 25, students and schools have access to free, live AP review lessons, delivered by AP teachers from across the country. These daily lessons focus on reviewing the skills and concepts from the first 75% of the course. Hosted on the AP YouTube channel, lessons will be recorded and available on-demand so teachers and students can access them any time. As of this earlier morning, there were nearly 800,000 views.

The College Board is also working to help students with connectivity issues get access to the tools they need to use the practice resources and take the test because not all students have access to the internet or a device. Students who need mobile tools or connectivity assistance can access the College Board here.

Keeping all children engaged in school through distance learning can be difficult, but there are resources available. And, keep in mind that local teachers will be providing information on lesson requirements, so parents stay informed with local districts.

But as parents work with educators to keep distance learning going, here are some tips about how parents can help their kids learn at home:

  • Work on one or two subjects each day. Don’t try to replicate the structure of a six-hour school day
  • Learn alongside your kids. Use some of the many online resources. Don’t worry if you feel rusty in algebra or don’t speak a second language
  • Find a rhythm that works for you and the kids. At the end of the day, talk about the highs and lows and adjust as needed
  • Plan in daily brain and activity breaks, as well as things to look forward to each day
  • Relationships come first. Then assignments. If kids are anxious, becoming a drill sergeant won’t work
  • Help your kids find their passions. The idea is to spark a love of learning. Does your child love animals? Look up documentaries on lions or penguins and ask them to do a presentation for the family. Have younger kids draw pictures and tell a story, while older kids can design a PowerPoint presentation

Talking to children now about the corona virus is also crucial and can be difficult. The Centers for Disease Control has a link to ways to discuss with and reassure children. Check the link here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html.

As the School Closure Executive Order continues, the latest updates from the Department of Education are available here: https://education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/health/covid19/. For other information, contact the Minnesota Department of Health: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools.html

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