Smart reStart FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the district’s plans to restart learning during the 2020-2021 school year?
Please see our Smart reStart plan for an overview of what school will look like this year, including our learning models and safety protocols. 

What will learning look like this year?
Our plan is to have students back in school as much as safely possible in the coming year, but we know it is very likely that we will have to shift between the three learning formats described below depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community. Of course, we’re also offering a 100% Online Learning option for any family who wishes to choose a more consistent schedule as part of a full-time at home learning model. Learn more about each of the following learning models in our Smart reStart plan.

  • Option #1: Learning On The Dial - Our plan is to have students back in school as much as safely possible in the coming year, but we know it is very likely that we will have to shift between In-Person Learning/Hybrid Learning/Distance Learning depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community. Choosing this option means families will need to be flexible and have alternate plans should we be in any of these models. Learn more about each of these three learning models in our Smart reStart plan.
  • Option #2: 100% Online Learning - Families may choose to have their child learn 100% online from home with the support of district teachers. This option will support students and families with a variety of medical concerns or those who just don’t feel comfortable returning to school yet. Learn more in our Smart reStart plan.

Can I change my preference from In-Person/Hybrid/Distance Learning to 100% Online Learning or vice-versa at any time?
To ensure staffing is in place to support our students, families who opt into 100% online learning will be encouraged to commit for 1 term at a time. At this time, we anticipate a term will equal one quarter for elementary and a semester for middle and high school students. 

How will you keep students and staff safe when in school?
While we cannot guarantee a COVID-free environment, we follow all of the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for safety, face coverings, cleaning and sanitizing to mitigate risks associated with the spread of COVID-19. Read more about our safety measures. Among our many safety protocols:

  • Physical distancing of individuals in classrooms and common areas, and visual reminders for physical distancing

  • Face coverings for all staff and students in our buildings

  • Regular handwashing

  • Handwashing stations with soap and/or hand sanitizer in each classroom

  • Limited sharing of supplies

  • Increased daily and weekly enhanced cleaning and disinfecting 

  • Increased circulation of outside air into buildings

Will students be screened for COVID before they enter school?
Families, students and staff are expected to self screen at home before coming to school. Learn more about what you should do if you have symptoms of COVID. If your child has any of the following symptoms they should stay home. Please report the information to your school nurse.

One of these symptoms:

  • Fever 100.4 degrees fahrenheit or higher
  • New onset and/or worsening cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell


Two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Excessive fatigue
  • New onset of severe headache
  • New onset of nasal congestion or runny nose

Close Contact/Potential Exposure

  • Had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) with a person with confirmed COVID-19 You must also stay home if you checked any box above. Call the school to report your absence.

What childcare options are available?
The Governor’s Executive Order 20-82 indicates that the district must provide care for children of “essential workers” at no cost during the school day at times when the district is operating in a hybrid or distance learning model. We will do our best to provide a fee-based childcare program for families not classified as “Tier 1 Essential Workers” and before and after school based on available space in our schools and available staff. More information online.

Will district-owned technology be provided?
We will provide district-owned technology to any student without access to devices or internet at home. The school district has a limited number of Chromebooks available for student use. A limited number of Internet hotspots are also available to families who are experiencing financial hardship, or if broadband access is not available for purchase. If you have trouble with a slow connection, please contact your internet service provider. Additionally, reduced cost broadband access information is listed online. If you need help getting internet access at home, please refer to this information. More information is available on our Family Technology Support page.

What social/emotional help is available?
We are committed to supporting the social/emotional health of our students and providing increased mental health support through the pandemic. We’re incorporating social/emotional learning into all models of learning - whether online or in-person - and will focus on creating meaningful relationships and building positive connections with staff and classmates:

  • School counseling, mental health supports and resources will be available for all students, whether enrolled in Inp-Person/Hybrid or Online Learning

  • Staff will be available to support families with technology needs

  • We’re developing plans to provide orientation (WEB and Link Crew) to our 6th grade and 9th grade students either virtually or in-person

  • We’re also developing ways to build strong connections between teachers and students, should we need to start the year in either a Hybrid or Online model

  • Information on how to access resources for mental health and wellness support is available on our website at

Will my student have access to school meals?
All enrolled students, regardless of which learning model we’re in, will have access to school meals. Learn more online.

  • Breakfast and lunch will be available to students when they are in school on an in-person and hybrid learning schedule.

  • Weekly meal distribution will be available for families who have chosen 100% online learning and those on a Hybrid schedule for the 3 days they're learning from home, as well as when students are in a distance learning model.

What will transportation look like this year?
Per state regulations, bus capacity will be at 50% and all students, drivers and bus aides are required to wear face coverings/masks. Students will be assigned seats, with one child to a seat. Those from the same household may sit together. Cleaning and disinfecting will take place following each route with special attention to high touch areas. Bus and parent drop-off and pick-up zones and loading/unloading times may need to be modified. Specific instruction will come from your child’s school

Do students/staff need to wear a mask to school?
Per the governor’s orders, staff, students (kindergarten through 12+) and visitors are required to wear masks in our buildings. The district will provide one face mask for each student and staff member. Disposable masks will be available in the school’s main office for anyone who forgets a mask. Learn more about mask protocols

Are there any exemptions to Minnesota’s requirement to wear face coverings in the school setting?
Students who have medical or other health conditions, disabilities, or mental health, developmental, or behavioral needs that make it difficult to tolerate wearing a face covering are exempt from wearing a face covering under Governor's Executive Order 20-81. The district's Mask Exemption Form can be found here.
How should it be determined whether an individual student’s medical or other health conditions, disabilities, or mental health, developmental, or behavioral needs requires the student to be exempt from the face covering requirement while at school? 
The student’s individualized education program (IEP) team, which includes the student’s parent/guardian, is responsible for the development, review, and revision of the student’s IEP. This includes reviewing and revising the student’s IEP, as appropriate, to address information about the student provided to, or by, the parents, related to the student’s ability to wear a face covering or face shield, as well as to address the student’s anticipated needs and other matters related to the student’s educational programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are there circumstances when face coverings may be temporarily removed?
Yes. Face coverings can also pose special challenges for people who are deaf or hard of hearing or have other communication needs or disabilities. Governor's Executive Order 20-81 exempts people who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, but also allows people without such conditions to temporarily remove their face covering while communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing or who has a condition or disability that makes communication with that individual while wearing a face covering difficult. In addition, there is a temporary exemption when providing a service that cannot be performed or would be difficult to perform the student receiving the service is wearing a face covering. 

What happens if someone in my child’s school or classroom tests positive for COVID-19?
We will communicate with families whenever there is a positive COVID case in a school building. Communications will not provide private, personally identifiable information about a specific individual, and it is important to note that a single case of COVID may not result in closure of a school building. For a person to be “exposed” to COVID, they need to be within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes. Any time there is a suspected COVID case in the building, we will conduct contact tracing in partnership with local health experts. Should your child be exposed to COVID, you will be notified directly.

  • Staff or students who become infected with COVID-19 (whether through the community or within the school) must be isolated at home for 10 days. Siblings and household members must stay home for 14 DAYS. Close contacts must be quarantined for 14 days.
  • Parents will be notified if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in their child’s class or in the building; the privacy of the infected individual will be maintained.
  • Cases within a group or classroom may require quarantine, including the transition of classes or the entire school to distance learning.
  • MDE will be consulted in the event of an outbreak
  • During the event of a class or building closure, students will have access to distance learning.
  • Re-opening of classes or buildings after an outbreak will be determined in consultation with MDE.

OUTBREAK = 5% of total student/staff absent with COVID-19-like illness in a week

See Decision Tree for People with COVID symptoms.

What will the Special Education program look like?
Check out the Special Education Smart reStart plan for all of the details families need to know regarding special education services during the 2020-2021 school year.

What will preschool look like this year?
Preschool will follow the same schedule as our elementary schools for both In-Person and Hybrid Learning. There will not be an Online Learning option for preschool families. Depending on space availability, Preschool Play Days may be available for families seeking an option on the days when school is not in session. ThreeSchool preschool programming will remain the same during In-Person and Hybrid Learning. Preschool is a fee-based program.