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October 26, 2020
Hello Spero families,
Thank you for your continued support as we navigate through these unprecedented times. Our leadership team has made the difficult decision to move back to Distance Learning starting the week of November 2nd. Distance Learning will start on Tuesday November 3rd. There will be NO SCHOOL or CHILDCARE on Monday November 2nd in order to give our teachers and staff time to prepare for the changes. I know this news is disappointing for both families and staff but we believe this is the safest option for all, considering the data and safety of our staff and students.
Last week, we met with our consultation team from MDE, MDH, and the Minneapolis Department of Health to discuss our plans to transition back to Distance Learning. They approved of both our decision-making process and our decision to move to a more restrictive model before the onset of Winter and the upcoming holidays. They addressed the correlation between the recent MEA break and a rise in cases, which gives us an idea of how our numbers will be affected by both Thanksgiving and the Winter holidays. They were able to give us some guidance and some valuable information to support our decision, including community and racial/ethinic data, all of which serves to reinforce our belief that we are making the best decision for our population of students and staff.
We will continue to work closely with our consultation team, who will guide us as we make the transition back to Hybrid Learning in mid-January. With all we have learned, we are confident that this shift will be quicker and more seamless the second time around. The Spero Academy Reopening Plan will be updated, emailed to families and posted on the website by the end of next week.
If you have any questions or concerts, please contact Diane Pangal.
Spero Leadership Team
August 26, 2020
Last spring Spero Academy and our families faced a challenge they had never before experienced in the 16 years of the school’s operation. With the onset of COVID-19 staff and families had to quickly adjust to a completely different method of teaching and learning than they were used to. But thanks to the hard work of staff and families we did adjust. This fall will once again bring us into a different way of teaching and learning but with the help and support of our families and the expertise of our staff we are confident that we will continue to provide quality instruction to our Spero students.
In the middle of June the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) along with Governor Walz announced three possible scenarios with guidelines for each scenario for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 academic year. These three scenarios are; Distance Learning, Hybrid Learning and In-Person Learning.
On July 30, 2020 Governor Walz announced the plan for Minnesota for reopening schools. The decision to reopen a school takes into account the virus’ spread in the surrounding county, and the district’s ability to meet public health requirements. The Governor and Commissioner Reiker (MDE) stressed that county level data alone will not determine the learning model chosen by the district or charter school and that the ultimate decision would be left up to the individual schools.
During this time, the school building will be restricted to Spero Academy staff, board members, and currently enrolled students. You can read more about our COVID-19 Visitor Procedure Guidelines.
Spero Academy understands the challenges facing families as we begin to implement a distance learning plan with your students. We recognize that families will have challenges supporting their students with their distance learning. Spero Academy is here to support families and students as we navigate this plan.
We are asking you as parents/guardians for the following support:
If you have questions that your student's classroom teacher cannot answer, please contact the member of our leadership team that is overseeing the area you need more information about.
Diane Pangal - School & Program Oversight, On-site Child Care Program for Tier 1 Essential Workers Oversight
Susan Scheller - Academic/Curriculum Services
Kelly Tiedemann & Alex Ward - Special Education Services
Edi Becerra - Food & Curriculum Delivery Coordination
Devin Taylor - Food Service Coordination
Erin Giebink - IT/Technology Support
Roxann Manaen - Health Procedures Oversight
Yes, attendance will be taken by your child's teacher based on their completion of assignments and whether or not they were able to reach your student to check in during the day. Please let your student's teacher know if your student is ill and cannot participate on a particular day. If your teacher is unable to reach you on a given day, it will be marked as an unexcused absence.
Yes, teachers will be available during the school day Monday-Thursday like our normal school week via email or other methods they have developed for communicating with their students and families.
Students whose families choose not to participate in distance learning for a day will be marked as absent.
Students will be responsible for completing all assignments sent by their teacher. We understand that our students often need flexibility at school and we will extend the same expectation to getting work completed at home, so there will not be any consequences for students with regard to grades or attendance if they need to complete work later in the day or on another day if they are having a challenging day at home.
We encourage families to take advantage of the resources for free wifi during this time described in our Resources Document. USI and Comcast Xfinity have also made their hotspots around the city free to access during this time. If you cannot access the internet at home, please reach out to your student's teacher so they can provide curriculum in an alternative way that does not require internet access.
Spero Academy was directed to develop three contingency plans to prepare for the 2020-21 school year using the three scenarios described below:
Scenario 1: In-person learning for all students. In this planning scenario, schools should create as much space between students and teachers as is feasible during the day, but will not be held strictly to enforcing 6 feet of social distancing during primary instructional time in the classroom. Activities and extracurricular programming should continue to follow the COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Youth, Student, and Child Care Programs. This scenario may be implemented if state COVID-19 metrics continue to stabilize and/or improve. All requirements in this guidance apply to scenario 1.
Scenario 2: Hybrid model with strict social distancing and capacity limits. In this planning scenario, schools must limit the overall number of people in school facilities and on transportation vehicles to 50% maximum occupancy. Sufficient social distancing with at least 6 feet between people must occur at all times. If distancing cannot be achieved in a space or on a transportation vehicle, the number of occupants must be reduced. Schools must also include plans for contactless pick-up and/or delivery of meals and school materials for days that students and staff are not in the school building, as well as implementation of a school-age care program for critical workers. This scenario may be implemented if COVID-19 metrics worsen at the local, regional, or statewide level. Scenario 2 may also be implemented within a school if they experience clusters of cases within a classroom or the school. All requirements in this guidance apply to scenario 2, with additional requirements noted in the Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure section noted for scenario 2 only.
Scenario 3: Distance learning only. This scenario may be implemented if local, regional, or statewide COVID-19 metrics worsen significantly enough to require the suspension of in-person learning. The requirements in this guidance regarding in-person protections would not apply to the general school community, as students and staff would be utilizing distance learning and would not be gathering in groups on school grounds. However, schools may be open to provide emergency child care or other functions.
July 29, 2020
Hello Spero Community,
We know the summer has been filled with uncertainty about how the new school year will look. Spero Academy has been working hard to secure as much information as possible regarding the scenarios for school this fall. These scenarios outline instructional methods for the start of this school year. Additionally, we are aware that we may be asked to shift between each scenario, therefore, we need to be prepared for all three. Our administrative team has been working since before the 19-20 year ended to prepare plans and resources for our staff to be able to implement each of these scenarios successfully. We appreciate your patience while we took the time to understand the information released by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
The Spero Academy Board of Directors, with input from the leadership team, has made the decision to begin the year with the distance learning scenario. Governor Tim Walz was set to announce statewide guidance regarding the fall opening of schools on July 27, but pushed that announcement back to tomorrow, July 30. Given our understanding of the guidelines for schools, we feel comfortable informing our community of this initial decision to assist with the planning process for the upcoming year. However, there is the possibility that this decision may be impacted by information the Governor releases on Thursday, July 30
We know this will likely be a relief to some families, and very frustrating for others. We have taken into consideration multiple factors, including the health and safety of our staff and students, and what the reality of a day at school would look like for our students right now given the need for continued social distancing.
This plan will be reevaluated beginning the week of September 8 to determine if a gradual shift to a hybrid model is a safe and responsible choice. A continued monitoring of the Covid-19 virus impact on our community will be necessary to help determine the deliberate reintegration of students and staff back into the school building, transportation needs, and school activities. We ask for your continued patience as we navigate this unprecedented and ever-changing situation. Our mission, as it has always been, is to ensure we deliver the best possible individualized program to each of our students, and we will continue to strive to do this regardless of the format their learning takes place in this year.
Spero Academy fully understands the challenges that come with this decision as well as the need to protect our students and staff. We will be following this communication with additional information regarding instruction, supports, and curriculum/supply delivery within the next two weeks as we prepare for our first day of instruction on August 17th.
Dr. Chipp Windham
July 8, 2020
Good morning Spero Academy Families.
On June 23, the Spero Academy Board of Directors approved an amended calendar for 2020-2021.
Last week, MDE and MDH published new guidelines regarding the start of next school year. MDE has reviewed the MDH guidelines and asked that all schools develop three plans.
All schools are required to create all three plans and have them ready by July 27th. On or before July 27th, MDE and MDH will make the decision of what plan schools will be required to implement. Since our initial approved calendar had a start date of August 10th for students, and a return to work for all staff on August 3rd, the school felt this was not enough time for teachers to develop work plans and lesson plans. It was determined that staff need an additional week to formalize lesson plans for all three scenarios with the initial scenario being implemented on August 17th.
I also want to take a moment to explain the relationship between the three scenarios and why MDE/MDH have required all three scenarios in our planning.
MDE shared that it is "quite likely" that throughout the year, any/all of the scenarios will be implemented at any time. In March, Gov. Walz shut down all schools and allowed for eight (8) days of planning with no instructional time required. For Spero Academy, this also came right before Spring Break, which meant our student went almost three weeks without instructional activities.
The planning that will take place in July (operational and work plans) will lay the foundation for the lesson plans that all teachers will be required to create for each scenario. It is important to understand that NO additional time will be given to schools to plan for a change in scenarios IF/WHEN MDE/MDH determine that a shift from one scenario to another scenario is necessary. This could literally be a week to week change depending on trends and projections for Covid-19 cases. Therefore, to be ready for an immediate shift in scenarios, our staff needs the extra week of planning so that no instructional time is lost when school is in session.
Elementary schools are required to have 935 hours of instructional time. Our previous calendar showed 999 hours of instructional time. The new revised/approved calendar shows 975 hours, which means even with shortening the school year by one week, we will still meet the required amount of instructional hours.
This has not been an easy decision to make; however, given the need to be ready to make an immediate shift in instructional methods, we feel this is the best alternative we can make to ensure as seamless a transition as possible should the need arise.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly. I will be out of the office from July 3-12, but will do my best to answer questions when possible.
Again, thank you as we approach these challenges together.
Dr. Chipp Windham
April 29, 2020
Hello Spero Families and Staff,
We want to provide an update for you on some important dates as we look ahead following the announcement that we will be distance learning through the end of the year.
Our creative staff is planning some wonderful end of the year activities and events for students - virtually, of course! We will be in touch with more information as those plans come together. In the meantime, please continue to reach out with any questions or concerns.
April 23, 2020
Hello Spero Families and Staff,
Governor Walz announced during his press conference today that Minnesota schools will be practicing distance learning through the end of the 19-20 school year. Our school year is currently scheduled to end on Thursday, June 25. Once we receive additional clarification on the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) expectations for schools with non-traditional calendars, we will be able to share information about how long our distance learning programming will last. While we know this is a challenging time, we will continue to support our students to the best of our ability from a distance as we have been doing for the last several weeks.
MDE will be providing additional guidance to schools over the next week to help us continue to improve our Distance Learning Plan (DLP). More information about additional support and changes to our DLP will be released as we learn about the resources MDE is providing and are able to adapt our own plans to best support our students.
We want to thank our staff and our families for all the amazing efforts they are making to provide for our students -- educationally, nutritionally, caregiving, and social and emotional. As always, please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
The Spero Academy Administrative Team
April 2, 2020
To all Spero Academy Families and Community,
On Friday, March 27th, all schools were required to post a Distance Learning Plan (DLP) for their school or district. Spero Academy has posted this information. The original information provided a basic framework for instructional methods and links for additional questions.
Since then, we have been working on a more detailed plan that will help students, families, and our staff navigate distance learning over the next few weeks. View the complete Spero Academy DLP. It can also be found on the DLP page of our website, linked above.
Please take a few minutes to review the document so you are prepared for distance learning to begin this coming Monday, April 6. .
If you have any questions, please respond to this email or reach out to your student's classroom teacher.
March 27, 2020
Hello Spero Community -
Families will receive additional information next week to help them prepare for distance learning to begin on Monday, April 6.
March 26, 2020
To all Spero Academy Families and Community:
Yesterday, Governor Walz and Commissioner Ricker shared information with all schools that will impact operations and instruction for the next few weeks. The information below will outline what we currently know and how we plan to address this information.
We will be in touch next week about when you can expect technology and/or your student’s distance learning materials to be delivered. A new page on our website detailing the distance learning plan will be available by the end of the day tomorrow, Friday, March 27.
Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we plan the very best education for your student(s) during this time.
March 17, 2020
We know this must be a challenging time with everyone in your home trying to figure out new routines. We want to clarify when you can expect materials and curriculum for your students, as there have been some questions since our students have been at home the last couple of days.
As soon as the governor announced that Minnesota schools would be closed, Spero Academy began to prepare for the possibility of distance learning. The following information should provide a guide for your expectations regarding the timelines and state requirements for instructional content.
Please remember, regardless of the decision to end or extend the mandated closure, NO INSTRUCTION WILL BE TAKING PLACE UNTIL APRIL 6TH, 2020. We know it is difficult to have your students home and want activities to keep them learning and engaged, but our teachers need this uninterrupted work time until the 27th to prepare distance learning plans that will meet all of our students’ needs and goals. We appreciate your understanding and willingness to give our teachers the time they need to create the very best learning plans, regardless of whether your student will be back in person or learning at home on Monday, April 6.
March 17, 2020
We want to provide information to answer some questions about how and when resources and materials will be delivered for your students.
How Will Supplies Get To My Student?
Our transportation company that usually drives students to school will be delivering resources for us during this time. If we are delivering food or curriculum resources, it will be done through Contemporary Transportation, and we will contact you ahead of time to give you a window of time for delivery. An adult will need to be present and come out to meet the van in order to accept the food or materials. If no one is home when the van arrives with your food or materials, they cannot leave them unattended and we will have to reschedule a delivery time.
If your family would prefer to come pick curriculum resources up at the school building instead, we will send a survey out prior to that delivery so you can select your preferred method of getting your student’s supplies.
When Will Things Be Delivered?
What Will Distance Learning Be Like?
This will be a little different for every student, depending on their needs and goals. Teachers are required to check in with their students daily during distance learning, and your student’s teacher will be in touch with more information about what that will look like for your family once they have the opportunity to develop the plans for each student over the next two weeks.
We have put together a list of resources that may be helpful for your family over the next few weeks, including how to get free internet if you do not currently have it at home, where to find other food resources if you are in need, as well as some websites that are offering free educational resources, information on the pandemic, and other things. The resources in this document are not a substitute or part of the curriculum your student’s teacher is currently developing, but we hope you may find something helpful in them during this two-week planning period and the week of Spring Break while those individual plans are in development. We will continue to update this document as we find additional resources that we think may be helpful to our Spero families. You can find the document in English and in Spanish.
Our plans are still in development, and we will continue sending out information as it is available. Thank you for your understanding and flexibility as we work to serve each of our students as best we can in these uncertain times.
Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
March 16, 2020
Yesterday, Governor Tim Walz and Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker announced that all Minnesota public schools will close to students starting Wednesday, March 18, 2020 with the plan to resume instruction on Monday, March 30, 2020. Spero Academy’s spring break is scheduled for March 30-April 3, so we will resume instruction for our students on Monday, April 6.
During the school closure for students, Spero Academy will be joining school districts and charter schools across the state to create plans to equitably distribute distance learning to our students should we need to close schools statewide for a longer period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minnesota Department of Education is defining distance learning to mean that a student receives daily interaction with their licensed teacher(s) and appropriate educational materials. Starting March 30, 2020, per the instruction from the Minnesota Department of Education, student learning will continue for the rest of the school year. Because this falls during our spring break, instruction for our students will resume on Monday, April 6.
Our first communication sent yesterday during the governor’s press conference indicated that distance learning options would be provided during this time, which will not be the case. It was written prior to our staff fully understanding the expectations of the governor and the Department of Education for schools over the next two weeks, and we apologize for our misunderstanding and the resulting miscommunication.
Our educators will be giving thoughtful planning to our distance learning plan, offering careful consideration for students in a variety of areas, including students receiving special education services, multilingual learners, students experiencing homelessness, and students who rely on meals served at school.
Once our distance learning plan is finalized we will communicate the plan to families via email.
As always, our first priority is the safety and well-being of our students. We also want to ensure every child has access to the education they need and deserve.
We will continue to keep you informed as we navigate COVID-19.
March 15, 2020
At 10:00 this morning, Governor Tim Walz announced that Minnesota schools will be closed WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18 - FRIDAY, MARCH 27. Schools are allowed to close before March 18, but Spero Academy WILL BE OPEN MONDAY, MARCH 16 and TUESDAY, MARCH 17 for students to allow families as much time as possible to prepare for this closure.
School closures beyond Friday, March 27 will be evaluated on a daily basis. Spero Academy's Spring Break is scheduled for March 30-April 2, which will continue as scheduled.
In accordance with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education, distance learning options will be available for all students. Spero Academy is working quickly to ensure our students have access to educational options appropriate for their individual needs as much as possible. We will announce as soon as possible when our distance learning options are available for students. Our teachers and paraprofessionals will be involved in providing these distance learning options on a daily basis. No distance learning options will be provided over the previously scheduled Spring Break week.
The Minnesota Department of Education will issue additional guidance for students who receive special education services, and those who rely on food service. Spero Academy is also working on gathering additional resources for our families who rely on our hot lunch program to provide meals for their students. Please check back for additional information as we continue to organize our plans to provide the best education we can over the next few weeks.
Thank you for your cooperation and patience as we work togehter to figure out the best possible resources for our students. Check this space regularly for the most updated information.
March 12, 2020
As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to create a need for many schools to create a working response plan, Spero Academy continues to monitor our resident district, Minneapolis Public Schools, and recommendations from both the Minnesota Health Department and MDE. In reviewing the information and recommendations that are available, Spero Academy has begun making preparations for potential interruptions in our program. While contingency plans are in development, NO FIRM DECISION TO CLOSE THE SCHOOL HAS BEEN MADE. Spero Academy is simply preparing for this possibility as well as limiting potential risk in controllable areas.
Spero Academy has already increased the amount of sanitation that is taking place around the building. Our facilities team continues to clean every surface with appropriate and approved cleaning agents multiple times a day, and the staff is working with our students to make sure they are washing their hands often.
While Spero Academy can monitor the school environment, Spero Academy has chosen to reschedule the all school field trip to Elsie's Bowling on March 19th, 2020 due in part to our inability to monitor the cleanliness of the bowling alley. A new date for this field trip will be shared at a later date. The school will be providing an alternative bowling program at the school that day. We have already ordered some exciting equipment that will allow our students to still have a bowling experience at the school. At this time, allowing the students to touch the bowling balls or equipment in a public space, outside of the school, is a risk that we are unwilling to take. Secondly, our monthly assembly will be cancelled on March 26th. Both decisions have been made to limit risk for both students and staff.
If Spero Academy does make the decision to close school for an extended period of time, teachers have already begun to prepare curriculum for students to work on at home. This will be available in a variety of ways such as hard copies of work that will be sent home with the students, and online content that will also allow for live feedback and instruction from our teachers. More at-home learning choices are still being considered, but only in place of school closure should this become necessary. At this time, no at-home learning programs are in place if a parent chooses to keep their child home as a precautionary measure.
Spero Academy is dedicated to educating our students, but we are also committed to providing a safe learning environment. If our environment is compromised, or if our local community deems it necessary to create immediate alternative plans, we will share that information as quickly as possible. Please continue to refer to this webpage for more updates. For any additional questions, please feel free to contact the school.
Thank you for your understanding as we keep our students' and staff's best interest in mind.
March 12, 2020
As I'm sure you are aware, the recent outbreak of COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty and concern. Across the nation, and more specifically in our state, schools and governmental agencies are distributing fact sheets and plans in case emergency measures are required in response to the virus should local impact become an immediate concern.
Please refer to this page for updates and provisionary plans for Spero Academy should the need arise for school-wide response.
Thank you for your attention to this concern.
March 12, 2020
Many people have questions about the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus called COVID-19, especially how it may affect schools. From H1N1 to the measles, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), which is Spero Academy’s resident district, has demonstrated its ability to manage illness outbreaks in a coordinated, strategic way that prioritizes the health of our students, families and staff. MPS has been monitoring COVID-19 closely over the last few months and meeting regularly to develop plans.
The City of Minneapolis’s Health Department is actively monitoring the situation in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. MPS are working closely with the City, Hennepin County, and the State as well to stay up-to-date on the best ways to keep students and staff safe. For now, MPS are following their lead and recommendations. Soon they will be providing additional information laying out their plans, including potential impacts to MPS-sponsored travel. MPS will also keep their website regularly updated.
Here at Spero we promote ways to prepare, you can too — the same as you would for colds and flu:
With nonstop news coverage and high levels of uncertainty the COVID-19 can feel scary and overwhelming. You can be assured that along with MPS, Spero Academy is keeping abreast of the what is recommended by MDH and the CDC and we will keep you informed accordingly.
Roxann Manaen RN
Spero Academy Health Services