The agenda only contained two items at the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Board of Education Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday night: An update from Superintendent Ed Graff on the impact of COVID on district operations and a final review of the strategic plan (here's a link to view the plan) before the board votes to approve it next month.
On Friday, January 14, all MPS schools were moved to distance learning because of district-wide staffing shortages. As originally announced, MPS is planning to move back to in-person learning for all schools on Monday, January 31. Superintendent Graff said that going forward, the district will resume a school-by-school or classroom-by-classroom approach to temporarily move students to online learning depending on conditions in schools or classrooms. Any move to online learning district-wide would only happen if the district faced system-wide conditions that made in-person learning impossible. He also shared that during the switch to online learning, both student and teacher absences had declined. About 1,500 of the 29,000 MPS students are utilizing the option to be in school buildings to access online learning.
One other COVID-related announcement is that the district is in the process of obtaining more KN95 masks to be distributed to students and staff, as well as test kits that students can use to voluntarily test at home. The KN95 masks and test kits will be distributed directly to schools. Families must request test kits for their students from their school. Schools can request more masks and test kits from the district as needed. MPS anticipates receiving additional masks from the state of Minnesota.
Board members did not ask any questions about the COVID update, so the meeting continued with a brief overview of the strategic plan that the board will vote to approve next month. According to Superintendent Graff, one thing that makes this plan different from previous strategic plans is that it lays out the specific conditions the district administration views as necessary prerequisites for the district to meet the goals of the plan.
After the presentation, board members asked many questions and shared their comments about the strategic plan and the process for developing it. Chair Kim Ellison and Director Kimberly Caprini both expressed their excitement about the strategic plan. Director Caprini shared her experience meeting with staff at an MPS school recently. She says they were working collaboratively to keep students on-track. She feels district and school staff are ready to do the work necessary to support students to reach the goals in the strategic plan.
Director Cerillo asked about how the strategic plan will be shared with school communities. Superintendent Graff responded that the district has a communication plan to share the strategic plan with staff and families, and agreed that success will depend on having a unified understanding of the plan across schools in the district.
The board will meet again on Tuesday, February 8, at 5:30 p.m. when it will vote to approve the strategic plan. Because of COVID, the district requires pre-registration to attend the meeting in person. Details on how to attend are here. To make a public comment by voicemail or in person, register here.