This page contains information and updates about the 2021-22 school year. For district and community resources related to COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 page.
Reconnect & Refocus Back-to-school Plan
We are excited to welcome students back to school for the 2021-22 school year. It has been a long and challenging journey to get us to this new school year. Our dedicated team of educators, support and professional staff, and administrators are pleased to share this back-to-school plan.
We remain committed to providing safe and healthy school environments for students and staff. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our school operations and programs, and will make timely adjustments as necessary.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), in alignment with current scientific evidence and guidance from the CDC, strongly recommends vaccination for those 12 and older, in addition to the consistent use of layered mitigation strategies to help safeguard in-person instruction as a priority.
As we plan to return to many of the pre-pandemic operations and protocols, this guide includes our latest plans, guidance and mitigation strategies.
Eric Melbye, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Reconnect & Refocus 2021 information is based on current guidance and recommendations and could change based on further direction. The most up-to-date guidance will always be available on this web page.
Schools are critical to students’ learning and overall well-being. As such, in-person schooling is optimal for the vast majority of students because it provides access to a wide range of academic and social-emotional learning opportunities, promotes play, peer relationships, physical activity, and positive mental health in a structured, physical environment.
- BPS schools will be open daily and classes held five days a week in-person.
- New Code Academy (formerly Bloomington Online School) is offered for K-12 students as an online, full-year commitment school. This is the available option for families who are not comfortable with in-person learning.
- There are no plans to offer distance or hybrid learning. However, the district will offer e-learning days when inclement weather impacts our ability to transport students safely. Details for the e-learning plan will be shared this fall.
- ALL students and staff in early childhood through adult education are required to wear masks inside all district buildings to begin the school year. Exemptions for students will occur through the IEP process and when medically required. Children birth to age 2 are not required to wear any masks in any situation.
- Staff who are fully vaccinated and can maintain 6 feet of physical distance in the school setting may remove their mask when it supports educational instruction, or when working alone in their office.
- Students and staff are required to wear masks on all public transportation, including school buses or district transportation vehicles. This is a federal requirement.
- ALL persons entering a district school or facility are REQUIRED to wear a face covering/mask.
- There are no capacity or physical distancing requirements. To the extent possible, we will encourage physical distancing and limit the intermingling of student cohorts to reduce the potential for spreading the virus.
- Elementary Classrooms: A distance of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between teachers/staff who are not fully vaccinated.
- Symptoms, even mild, pose a risk of the virus entering the school and office. Parents/caregivers are expected to perform a daily health screening of their children BEFORE sending them to school using this checklist. If your child is exhibiting any signs of infectious illness symptoms, please keep them home.
- Students exhibiting any signs of illness at school will be sent home. Parents will be notified to pick up their child in a timely manner.
- Symptomatic students, regardless of vaccination status, will be allowed to return to school following either: 1) a negative COVID-19 test (taken between 3-5 days after exposure); OR 2) an alternative diagnosis; OR 3) a 10-day quarantine from symptom onset.
- All staff are required to perform a daily self-health screening BEFORE coming to work, and must stay home if exhibiting any signs of infectious illness.
- Frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizers is strongly encouraged. Schools will continue to provide hand sanitizing stations.
- Research shows air filtration systems add a layer of protection in classrooms. Our classrooms and offices are equipped with medical grade HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) purifiers that complete two air exchanges per hour with a guaranteed 99.9% particle removal. Source: University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic
- Students are only allowed to ride their assigned buses. Riders not assigned to a bus are no longer permitted to ride home with a friend or relative. We no longer issue one-day passes for riding the school bus.
- All confirmed cases of COVID-19 are required to be reported to the MN Department of Health (MDH) and must isolate for 10 days. Unvaccinated siblings and household members of positive cases are required to quarantine for 7 days with a negative COVID-19 test (taken between 3-5 days after exposure) or 10 days without a test.
- If a positive case is reported, we will notify the affected classrooms, programs, teams or groups. Exposed persons are not required to quarantine, but should monitor for any symptoms and get tested between 3-5 days from exposure date.
- Parents must notify the school health office when a child is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19.
- Staff who test positive for COVID-19 must notify the school nurse or COVID-19 coordinators.
- Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine when exposed to a positive case but should monitor for symptoms, get tested 3-5 days from exposure date and wear a face covering/mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
- When necessary, we will complete contact tracing to keep classrooms and buildings safe. Quarantines may be necessary in the event of an outbreak in a classroom, team or group.
- Testing is recommended for individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. We encourage weekly testing for unvaccinated students and staff as another strategy to keep COVID out of schools. COVID-19 testing info is available at bloomingtonmn.gov/ph/covid-19-information
- Vaccinations are not required. However, immunization is the single most effective strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and the more vaccine-eligible persons are vaccinated, the more we can dramatically reduce infection rates among unvaccinated persons.
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Millions of people have received vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Eligible unvaccinated persons are encouraged to make an appointment by visiting blm.mn/clinics or vaccines.gov.
- Early childhood through grade 12 students are required to wear masks in music class and singing, and in band class when not playing an instrument that requires the use of their mouth. It is strongly recommended students use a wind instrument mask and bell cover when playing a woodwind or brass instrument to minimize the generation of droplets and aerosols. At no time should students share instruments or microphones.
- To the extent possible, indoor band and choir/music rooms should be set up to maintain 6 feet of distance between students.
- Student meals (breakfast and lunch) will be provided at no charge again this year.
- Although meals are free this year, qualifying Applications for Educational Benefits generate much-needed funds for all of our schools. All families are encouraged to complete an application or opt-out at bit.ly/ed-benefits-app.
- Elementary and middle school students will have assigned seats or tables to support the possible need for contact tracing. When possible, students should maintain 3 feet of distance while seated for meals.
- All community education, early childhood and childcare programming will follow the details outlined in this plan, unless otherwise noted below:
- Early Childhood, ECFE and ECSE parents dropping off, picking up and/or attending a program or screening are required to wear a face covering/mask while indoors.
- Preschool SAFARI parents dropping off or picking up are required to wear a face covering/mask when entering the building.
- Kids’ SAFARI (before- and after-school childcare) parents dropping off or picking up are required to wear a face covering/mask when entering the building.
- ALL volunteers working in BPS schools are required to be vaccinated, and must complete an application form through the Volunteer Connection Office. This includes Tier One and Two volunteers (Policy 906), food service, recess, and classroom assistants, student teachers and clinical supervisors. Contact Volunteer Connection Office at 952-681-6293.
- Elementary school visitors are restricted at elementary schools to start the year. Parents are allowed to participate in Early Assessment Days, but are required to wear a face covering/mask inside the school.
- All visitors are required to sign the visitor log in each school/district facility office to support the possible need for contact tracing.
- Day field trips will be allowed this school year. No overnight field trips will be approved before winter break. District administration and the Pandemic Response Team will revisit this guidance before January 2022.
- Seats on buses will be assigned to support the possible need for contact tracing, and masks are required on district or contracted transportation at all times.
- Field trip participants are required to follow the venue’s mitigation strategies.
There is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic radically affected our school operations. To that end, we developed plans based on the unknown and unexpected, including in-person (or traditional school), online learning, and a hybrid system.
Our planning relied on formal and informal feedback from staff, parents and family surveys Reintroduction to School Family Feedback.
Other back-to-school areas we addressed included transportation, school schedules, custodial and food services, professional development, technology, staffing, and curriculum and instruction.
As a district we prepared for the flexibility to meet restrictions and guidance at any time. Our plans were developed to ensure we could change and pivot as necessary. Our goal was nothing short of producing a world-class response to the challenges wrought by the world pandemic.
In all of our work preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, we prioritized the health and well-being of our students and staff.
The following links provide presentations used to inform, educate and solicit feedback from staff, parents, students and families, including our five Community Engagement Events to introduce learning models and movements as conditions dictated.
- Parent/Family and Staff Surveys: We conducted a series of surveys to assess various levels of engagement, needs and feedback on a variety of school-related topics, issues and learning models.
- April 2020: Family Check-in
- Return to School Intent (May 2020): Family and Staff with Results Presentation
- Return to School Intent (August 2020): Family and Staff with Results Presentation
- COVID Communications Surveys (Spring 2020): Parents and Staff with Results
- COVID Communications Surveys (Spring 2021): Parents
- Community Engagement: A series of 90-minute virtual parent and community engagement events were carried live on BEC-TV to discuss the high-level aspects of BPS fall educational delivery models and facilities planning, and included a form to submit questions for panelists to share at each session.
- Parent Message on Fall Learning Model Options & Reintroduction to School Family Feedback
- Staff Message on Learning Models Feedback
- Learning Model Movement Presentation
- K-5 Online Learning