The Cloquet School Board discussed three contingency plans for the 2020-21 school year at its Monday, July 6 meeting.

The options released by the Minnesota Department of Education would have school districts bring all students back to school, educate students entirely through distance learning, or do a mix of in-person and distance learning.

Superintendent Michael Cary said the state will decide which option is best — Cloquet school officials will not.

“The school district is not the one making the decision on whether or not the school is opening in the fall,” he said. “For the sake of the students, I feel that it is important to have them in the school.”

If students are allowed to return to classrooms in-person, each school is required to create as much space between the students and teacher as possible. Everyone will be required to continue good hygiene habits emphasized during the pandemic. This option could be implemented if COVID-19 stabilizes and/or improves, according to the state guidelines.

Students and staff will be expected to continue to protect themselves and others by wearing face masks, social distancing and practicing good hygiene such as using hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in school, according to MDE.

Cary said that the guidelines with the hybrid model require the district to maintain strict social distancing and limits schools and buses to 50% capacity. If classrooms do not have enough space for at least 6 feet of distance between people, the number of students will be reduced.

The state guidelines said this scenario will be implemented if COVID-19 worsens in the state.

Because Cloquet has smaller classrooms, officials are looking at a three-day rotation for students, Cary said. Students would be split into three groups. The first group would attend class in school one day, then learn virtually for two days. On day two, the second group of students would rotate into school, and so on.

School lunches will continue to be provided to students who are not in the classrooms, Cary said.

Cary said he recommends keeping the bus routes as they are. He said he talked to Cloquet Transit and they can fit a range of 13-26 children on a bus, depending on how many children are in each family. He also talked to the transit company about adding a bus for this year only. They have one available for the school to use.

Cary recommended the school use the CARES federal emergency money to pay for the extra bus.

The third option is to continue distance learning only. Again, it depends on COVID-19, Cary said.

Gov. Tim Walz’s office, the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education will announce which option schools will use by the week of July 27.