An Eden Prairie School Board member broke his silence Monday after learning that the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) won’t be releasing state guidance on the upcoming academic year until July 27.
Three scenarios are possible for the 2020-21 school year, including continued distance learning, the resumption of in-person instruction, or a mix of the two. According to a Monday report from The Star Tribune, the MDE, Department of Health, and Gov. Tim Walz’s office won’t be deciding which option is the safest until the week of July 27.
In the meantime, school districts have been directed to develop contingency plans for all three scenarios, the report said.
Adam Seidel, a member of the Eden Prairie School Board, said the “delay and lack of clarity is outrageous and unacceptable.”
Up until now, Seidel said he has refrained from discussing issues surrounding the coronavirus on social media because he didn’t want to “make the jobs of our staff even more incredibly challenging than they already have been.”
“However, today I have to break this silence. Today, the Minnesota Department of Education revealed school districts could expect word on plans for the 2020-21 school year on July 27. Yes, six more weeks from now. By that time, many rural districts will be less than a month from the start of their school year. All options are still on the table, from full resumption of classes to continued full distance learning,” Seidel said in a statement posted to Facebook.
According to his statement, local district leaders have been shut out of the “decision-making process by the governor and his agency leadership appointees.”
“This delay and lack of clarity is outrageous and unacceptable. District staffs across the state have been scrambling to adjust and plan for many possible futures for months now, and certainly much of this is unavoidable. But now districts will have to continue to plan for next school year under a wide variety of possible scenarios, in effect, having to triple or quadruple work with no guidance to the final outcome,” said Seidel.
“By the time the decision comes, nearly all the summer planning period will be gone, and we’ll only be a couple weeks out from teachers/staff reentering buildings for their annual prep and orientation work, and only about a month from students beginning lessons. This means we, as districts, will have to be doing all kinds of things totally in the dark,” he continued.
He concluded his statement by calling the lack of information from the governor and his team “completely unconscionable.” Seidel predicted that many districts will be “totally incapable of successfully adapting to directives under this timeline.”
“To think the work of these many thousands of people, working in diverse districts all across the state, can be replaced by a tiny handful of governor’s staff and agency bureaucrats is arrogance of the highest order,” said the statement. “These tiny groups of decision-makers are not competent to replace school leadership all across the state. I will say it again: they are not up to the job, period.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Adam Seidel” by Adam Seidel. Background Photo “Eden Prairie School Board” by Eden Prairie School Board.