Major Minnesota school district allowing all students to opt in for ‘100 percent distance learning’

The Osseo school district now offers an online only option as parents say "distance learning" doesn't work while teachers insist it should continue.

Osseo Area Schools is now allowing all students to opt into a “100 percent distance learning option” for the fall in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Osseo district is located in Hennepin County on the northwest periphery of Minneapolis and is comprised of 24 schools serving more than 20,000 students. The district sent a message to the parents of all its students earlier this week offering a fully-online option for the upcoming academic year.

Parents who do not want their children returning to the classroom can register them for online school using a Google form found on the district website.

“Our Distance Learning Academy will provide a valued alternative to those who choose not to physically attend school,” the district said in its message to parents.

Image source: Twitter via @SKihne

“Students will be assigned to a dedicated licensed teacher to provide learning and support through a blend of live virtual sessions, video tutorials, and independent work,” said the email.

The district’s website states that a “year-long commitment will be required” when registering for the distance-learning program.

A tentative schedule for grades K-5 shows that students in the program will begin the day with a “live teacher session,” followed by a “small group session,” a “pre-recorded video lesson,” and “independent work.”

The district’s distance-learning option was announced ahead of Gov. Tim Walz’s highly-anticipated Thursday press conference, during which he will finally reveal the state’s plan for the upcoming school year.

Osseo’s decision to offer a fully-virtual option to all students came alongside Minneapolis Public Schools’ announcement that it would prefer to not resume in-person classes come fall.

“It’s been evident the preference has not been to go back to in-person learning,” Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff told WCCO. In light of this, Minneapolis schools have prepared for a remote start to the 2020-2021 school year.

This decision reflects the will of teachers who by and large do not want to resume in-person classes, at least according to a survey of teachers from Education Minnesota.

However, such plans to conduct the school year via webcam are not popular with parents, per the results of a survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education. This survey boasts over 130,000 respondents and was conducted over the course of 22 days between June and July.

The lion’s share of Minnesota families surveyed reported a “bad” or “very bad” experience with online school when it was attempted in the spring.

Image source: MN Department of Education

Further, 64 percent of respondents said they’re comfortable sending their children back to the traditional classroom. Ninety-four percent of that group said that students should return to school full time.