SARTELL -- Next week school districts across the state will learn their fate for the upcoming school year.

For the last month local school districts have been working hard planning for three different learning scenarios.

Sartell-St. Stephen Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert says it's been a challenge figuring out what would qualify as a hybrid learning style.

We are looking at options that would have half of the kids come to school one day and the other the next. We've talked about closing some buildings down and have those students do distance learning, then spacing out the other students in those empty buildings. But all these plans have major drawbacks.

This was already going to be a big transition year for students, with the reconfiguration of schools, on top of the ongoing pandemic.

Schwiebert say he's hoping to safely have students return to the classroom, especially for the K-8th grade levels.

I feel very strongly that K-8 students need to be in school for as much as they possibly can. We will make do with distance learning if we have too, but I would rather not and our survey says the same thing.

He says the Governors mask mandate does make it seem more likely that in-person learning will take place this fall with students and staff wearing masks.

If schools do return to in-person learning, Schwiebert understands there will be parents who don't feel comfortable sending their kids back to school and in those cases they will provide a distance learning option.

He says they hope to get the finalized plans out to parents around August 5th.

The Minnesota Department of Education is expected to make their recommendation by July 27th.

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