On Friday January 8, Minneapolis Public School (MPS) parents/guardians received notifications that the district is planning a return to phase 5, in-person learning for grades K-5 in February. It is unclear why the earlier phases of a “return to safe learning” adopted by MPS many months ago are being omitted. In the communication parents/guardians were asked to submit a form indicating whether they choose to send their child to in person learning or continue with distance learning from home with a submission deadline of January 22, 2021. The children of parents/guardians who fail to submit a form will automatically be assigned to in-person learning.
In the 48 hours following the MPS notifications, the community learned via a petition released by Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT 59) that the MPS plans for return to in person learning did not include input from the educators in creating the plan. MFT 59 has asked for “honest, transparent, and collaborative efforts to come to the safest possible plan for the return to in-person learning. In addition to good faith bargaining with unionized school staff, there must also be an authentic process involving students, parents, caregivers, and families to develop and implement any plan for returning to school buildings.” The petition calls on Superintendent Graff to delay openings until the following considerations (details on each item can be found in petition link) have been addressed:
: Give teachers the same choice as families in determining whether they teach in person or from home.
: Give all teachers the option to vaccinate before returning to teach in person.
Make our schools safe
: Comply with a list of science informed conditions to provide greatest possible protection to staff and students in the schools. See
for these details.
Provide emotional safety
: Hire additional teachers and support staff to meet the additional student needs of this difficult time.
Recognizing that there are fundamentally differing perspectives regarding how and when MFT 59 and MPS leadership have informed each other, we as MPS parents/guardians place the highest priority on supporting our students and school staff and protecting our community. The current plan to return K-5 to in person learning does neither. This is especially concerning given that the proposed return to school is scheduled to happen within weeks of a predicted surge arising from the newly circulating variant COVID B117. This variant is estimated to be between 20% and 70% more transmissible than the original virus strain.
Standing in solidarity with MPS educators and recognizing that maximal health measures to protect the broader MPS community have not yet been taken, we pledge to retain our children in distance learning until Superintendent Graff and the MPS board have addressed each of these concerns.