COVID-19 Update


A Word From Dr. Wyayn Rasmussen, Executive Director and Brenda Tollas, MEd, Head of School

 

 

Dear AOWL Community,

In these unprecedented times, we know that our commitment to offering individualized education must be informed by the fact that we are citizens of a larger, more complicated world outside the controlled and comfortable walls of our school. Although we are heartened that AOWL has not experienced COVID-19 spread, we acknowledge that many factors must influence our continued assessments.

After careful consideration of the growing impact of COVID-19 on our students, staff, and community, our educational plans require temporary revision. We have made the decision to transition to Learning Level 3: Temporary Virtual Learning for the upper school and middle school. By making this decision now, it is more likely that we will be able to return to Learning Level 2: Hybrid Learning on January 19, 2021.

In all decisions, we are guided by our mission to provide personalized learning paths for our students. We are balancing several factors in our decision to move to Learning Level 3: Temporary Virtual Learning including: ensuring the best possible education given current constraints, ensuring that our teachers are able to equitably address student needs, the COVID-19 increase in our Minnesota community, and unknown holiday risks. We do not make this decision lightly, and we plan to offer in-person education again as soon as possible.

In order to ensure an effective move to Learning Level 3, please note the following revised schedule:

Upper School begins full virtual learning on Monday, November 30. Please contact Georgette.Benton@aowl.org if your student needs a Chromebook or other technology assistance while learning virtually.

Middle School begins full virtual learning on Monday, November 30. Please contact Georgette.Benton@aowl.org if your student needs a Chromebook or other technology assistance while learning virtually.

Lower School will continue its on-campus hybrid schedule. Owls’ Nest will remain available for lower school students.

Capernaum services will continue in the lower school. They will contact families in middle and upper schools. 

As an essential service, AOWL Therapy Services will remain open

Piano lessons, tutoring, and clubs will continue virtually.

As always, we will continually reassess our plan in light of what we believe are the best safety practices for students, families, and staff. If this schedule changes for any reason, we will let you know as soon as possible. 

We understand that COVID-19 creates uncertainty that can amplify anxiety and elevate feelings. We are ready to meet the challenges we face, and we are committed to helping your family succeed every step of the way. Please reach out to us for any reason as we work together through this transition. Thank you for your continued trust and support.

Sincerely, 

Wyayn Rasmussen, Ed.D.
Executive Director

Brenda Tollas, M.Ed.
Head of School

For more information, please click on each tab below.

Climate for Learning Levels

 

Level 1: In-person Learning: Students attend all classes on campus. We recognize that our students thrive with face to face social interaction and we strive to support this vital aspect of our program. The daily schedule allows for appropriate social distancing as well as sanitation and hygiene protocols. We hope to start and finish our school year at level 1.

Level 2: Hybrid Learning: Students attend classes on campus four days a week with one day of virtual learning at home using Google Suite for Education. Consistently including distance learning each week, among many benefits, enables students, parents, and teachers to be better prepared for the possibility of a shift to temporary virtual learning or full distance learning. When we move to hybrid learning, we limit the number of students on campus at any given time as an important safety measure for students, faculty and staff. This balanced approach to teaching and learning gives all students the opportunity to be with their peers and teachers in a regular and predictable schedule. A rigorous and predictable schedule is best for students with neurodiversities.

Level 3: Temporary Virtual Learning: As conditions warrant, some classes may be asked to temporarily attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education.

Level 4: Full Virtual Learning: AOWL campus is closed for classroom operations and only necessary staff will be allowed into the building. All classes are held online using the Google Suite for Education.

Special circumstances: Students whose parents have determined that their child would best benefit from distance learning due to special circumstances will attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education. Classes follow a near-normal schedule with the same academic attention to excellence. If this option is selected, students may opt to return to in-person learning after winter break.

 

  • All Students

    Please watch our 4-minute video with your child(ren) so they can get a glimpse into what a day at school looks like. Note - the video does not include all of our mitigation strategies. For a full explanation of our mitigation plans click the tabs above. Visit the health and safety tab for specifics regarding AOWL’s strategies for keeping students and staff safe.


    The resulting agile, dynamic, and responsive plan detailed above is in accordance with the current requirements, recommendations, and guidance of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. All decisions related to the plan will be made by Dr. Wyayn Rasmussen, Executive Director, in consultation with the Board of Trustees Advisory Group, the Division Heads, and the COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Team.

    Board of Trustees Advisory Group

    John Higgins, Ligand Pharmaceuticals, CEO, Board Chair

    Ross Olson, Cargill, Finance and Risk Management

    Pat Mulvihill, Augsburg University, Assistant Provost for Global Education and Experience

    Margie Fuchs, Go! Marketing, Owner

    Bob Tift, Ed.D., Partners in Mission, Partner

    Division Heads

    Wyayn Rasmussen, Ed.D., Executive Director

    Brenda Tollas, M.Ed., Head of School

    Katie Thromodsgaard, MSW, LICSW, Director of Clinical Services

    Mike Onan, CPA, Director of Finance

    Carly Kortuem, Director of Strategic Advancement

    COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Team

    Louis Bakalars, COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Coordinator

    Emily Ward, State Planning Director, Emergency Preparedness and Response at Minnesota Department of Health

    Keera Tijerina, Social, Emotional, Physical Instructor

    Luella Ramberg, Executive Assistant to Executive Director and Board of Trustees

    Georgette Benton, Technology Director

    Kaitlin Walsh, Director of Enrichment Programming

    Mike Faeth, Post-Secondary Career and Education Counselor

    Colleen Farley, Teacher Associate/Art Specialist

    Sunni Myers, Mental Health Therapist

    Lisa Janisch, Director of Behavior Education

    Liz Hall, Classroom Teacher (HS)

    Kade Drechsler, Classroom Teacher (MS)

    Anita Haas, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Innovation

    Anna Myrand, Classroom Teacher (HS)

    Amy Epperson, Behavior Therapist

    Peg Cuccia, AOWL Parent

    Hannah Weise, Behavior Therapist

    Board of Trustees Advisory Group

    Division Heads

     

  • Lower School

    Lower School Climate for Learning


    School Day Hours: 8:00 am-3:00 pm

    School entrance: Entrance #2 - closest to the AOWL Sensory Garden

    Virtual Learning Day: Wednesdays

    *Wait to enter the parking lot and begin forming lines until the start of your student's designated pick-up or drop-off time. If you arrive before your assigned time, we ask that you park either across the street in the ice arena parking lot, or along the side street facing our playground area.


    Our Lower School teaching staff, faculty, and behavior therapists are devoted to strong differentiated learning based on the mission, vision, and values of Academy of Whole Learning at all Climate of Learning Levels. We are committed to excellence in both the delivery of instruction and the integration of social and life skills. The social and emotional needs of our students with neurodiversities will remain at the forefront of our instruction. Opportunities for building social relationships will be creatively addressed. Each student will have an individual storage chest next to their desk to limit the sharing of materials. Advancements in technology, with an interactive TV in every classroom, and additional technology tools will allow teachers to employ innovative technology and learning strategies to meet the individual needs of our students.

    Level 1 - In-person Learning: We hope to spend the majority of the school year at Level 1. The typical schedule would be followed. Students will learn as usual from their homeroom teaching staff and specialists. To reduce exposure during high-risk times. Lunches will be eaten in the classroom at student desks or outside when weather permits, one student at a time will be allowed in the bathrooms, and hallways are marked with ‘traffic’ lanes to provide social distancing.

    Over the last year, we have been researching how we could increase our outdoor instructional time; The COVID-19 crisis encouraged us to redesign our outdoor learning spaces now. Playing and learning outside as much as possible will reduce risk and helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment, and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles. The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly beneficial for children who learn best through active movement.

    Level 2 - Hybrid Learning: Students attend classes on campus four days a week with one day of virtual learning at home using Google Suite for Education. There is a strong consensus that consistently including virtual learning each week, among many benefits, enables students, parents, and teachers to be better prepared for the possibility of pivoting to temporary or full virtual learning. The primary focus of virtual learning days for students will be independent work skills. Students will access a PowerPoint via Google Classroom or Seesaw and follow the list of activities outlined in their daily schedule. The daily schedule followed by these students will model the schedule for in-person learning, with a focus on retention of known concepts. The Lower School Virtual Learning day is on Wednesdays.

    The majority of instruction will remain on campus with our full mitigation strategies in place.

    Level 3 - Temporary Virtual Learning: As conditions warrant, some classes may be asked to temporarily attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education. A possibility for this scenario could include both teaching staff being out awaiting test results. They could teach from home but would have to follow our Symptomatic Person’s Response Plan criteria before they could return to the classroom. Parents and students would be informed of the beginning and ending dates through texts and emails.

    Level 4 - Full Virtual Learning: If the COVID-19 metrics worsen and create higher health risks to our community, students in K-12 will be engaged in full virtual learning. We believe meaningful and engaging learning can take place at a distance. All classes are held online using the Google Suite for Education and include scheduled direct time with teachers/supports/other distance learners. Classes follow a near-normal schedule with the same academic attention to excellence. Our purposeful daily interactions between teaching staff and students will continue to take place at a distance. Our high standards for teaching and learning will ensure the continuity of learning. We will build upon our success of virtual learning in the spring of 2020 with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons and activities. We will continue to prioritize real-time teaching and create opportunities for interactions between peers and teachers.

    Students who choose full time distance learning will follow our Level 4 instructional model. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to meet with their teaching staff daily to receive support and clarification on assignments. Anita Haas, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Innovation, will provide additional support for distance learners. Distance learners will follow an asynchronous learning model and have synchronous social opportunities built into their daily schedule, including but not limited to: morning meeting, and lunchtime social time.

  • Middle School

    Middle School Climate for Learning


    School Day Hours: 8:15 am-3:15 pm

    Virtual Learning Day: Tuesdays

    Level 3: Temporary Virtual Learning Begins on November 30.


    Level 1 - In-person Learning: We hope to spend the majority of the school year at Level 1. The typical schedule will be followed. Students will learn as usual from their homeroom teaching staff and specialists. To reduce exposure during high-risk times, lunches will be eaten in the classroom at student desks or outside when weather permits, one student at a time will be allowed in the bathrooms, and hallways are marked with ‘traffic’ lanes to provide social distancing.

    A few noticeable changes to the student experience will include:

    • Specialists will rotate to the students’ homeroom classrooms, rather than having the students rotate.
    • Performing Arts will not be offered this year because the science behind the virus shows that singing and projecting the voice during drama are high-risk activities.
    • All Community Based Instruction will be suspended for the foreseeable future. This is in the best interest of all students to minimize travel into the community.
    • Locker assignments will be staggered to discourage congregation in hallways and reduce the opportunity for spread.
    • Outdoor spaces will be utilized on our beautiful campus for instruction and play.

    Over the last year, we have been researching how we could increase our outdoor instructional time; The COVID-19 crisis encouraged us to create our outdoor learning spaces now. Playing and learning outside as much as possible will reduce risk and helps students to understand and respect nature, the environment, and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles. The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly beneficial for children who learn best through active movement.

    Level 2 - Hybrid Learning: Students attend classes on campus four days a week with one day of virtual learning at home using Google Suite for Education. The primary focus of virtual learning days for students will be independent work skills. Students will access a PowerPoint via Google Classroom or Seesaw and follow the list of activities outlined in their daily schedule. The daily schedule followed by these students will model the schedule for in-person learning, with a focus on retention of known concepts. The Middle School Virtual Learning day is on Tuesdays.

    The majority of instruction will remain on campus with our full mitigation strategies in place.

    Level 3 - Temporary Virtual Learning: As conditions warrant, some classes may be asked to temporarily attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education. Possibilities  for this scenario could include teaching staff being out awaiting test results, increased community risk, and unknown holiday risks.  Parents and students would be informed of the beginning and ending dates through texts and emails.

    Level 4 - Full Virtual Learning: If the COVID-19 metrics worsen and create higher health risks to our community, students in K-12 will be engaged in full virtual learning. We believe meaningful and engaging learning can take place at a distance. All classes are held online using the Google Suite for Education and include scheduled direct time with teachers/supports/other distance learners. Classes follow a near-normal schedule with the same academic attention to excellence. Our purposeful daily interactions between teaching staff and students will continue to take place at a distance. Our high standards for teaching and learning will ensure the continuity of learning. We will build upon our success of virtual learning in the spring of 2020 with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons and activities. We will continue to prioritize real-time teaching and create opportunities for interactions between peers and teachers.

    Students who choose full time distance learning will follow our Level 4 instructional model. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to meet with their teaching staff daily to receive support and clarification on assignments.  They will also have social opportunities built into their daily schedule, including but not limited to: morning meeting, and lunchtime social time. These social opportunities have the potential to be synchronous with in-person learners as well.

  • Upper School

    Upper School Climate for Learning


    School Day Hours: 8:30 am-3:30 pm

    Virtual Learning Day: Thursdays

    Level 3: Temporary Virtual Learning Begins on November 30.


    Level 1 - In-person Learning: We hope to spend the majority of the year at Level 1. The typical schedule would be followed allowing for traditional academic and elective classes. Teachers will rotate to the students’ homeroom classrooms, rather than having the students rotate. Performing Arts will not be offered this year because the science behind the virus shows that singing and projecting the voice during drama are high-risk activities. To reduce exposure during high risk times, lunches will be eaten in the classroom at student desks or outside when weather permits, one student at a time will be allowed in the bathrooms, and hallways are marked with ‘traffic’ lanes to provide social distancing. Locker assignments will be staggered to discourage congregation in hallways and reduce the opportunity for spread. We have decided to suspend Community Based Instruction and after-school Experientials for the foreseeable future. This is in the best interest of all students to minimize travel into the community.

    We will increase our use of outdoor spaces on our beautiful campus for instruction. Over the last year, we have been researching how we could increase our outdoor instructional time; The COVID-19 crisis encouraged us to create our outdoor learning spaces now. Learning outside as much as possible will reduce risk and helps students to understand and respect nature, the environment, and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants, and lifecycles. The outdoor environment offers space and therefore is particularly beneficial for children who learn best through active movement.

    Level 2 - Hybrid Learning:  Students attend classes on campus four days a week with one day of virtual learning at home using Google Suite for Education. The primary focus of virtual learning days for students will be independent work skills. Students will independently work on assignments via Google Classroom. The Upper School Virtual Learning day is on Thursdays.

    The majority of instruction will remain on campus with our full mitigation strategies in place.

    Level 3 - Temporary Virtual Learning: As conditions warrant, students may be asked to temporarily attend classes online using the Google Suite for Education. Possibilities for this scenario could include teaching staff being out awaiting test results, increased community risk, and unknown holiday risks. They could teach from home but would have to follow our Symptomatic Person’s Response Plan criteria before they could return to the classroom. Parents and students would be informed of the beginning and ending dates through texts and emails.

    Level 4 - Full Virtual Learning: If the COVID-19 metrics worsen and create higher health risks to our community, students in K-12 will be engaged in full virtual learning. We believe meaningful and engaging learning can take place remotely. All classes are held online using the Google Suite for Education in tandem with live classes happening on campus. Classes follow a near-normal schedule with the same academic attention to excellence. Our challenging academic program and purposeful daily interactions with teaching staff can take place at a distance. Our high standards for teaching and learning will ensure the continuity of learning. We will build upon our success of distance learning in the spring of 2020 with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous lessons and activities. We will continue to prioritize real-time teaching and create opportunities for interactions between peers and teachers.

    Students who choose full time distance learning will follow a synchronous model of learning along-side in-person learners. Students will login to Google Meet or other meeting software which will enable them to join the class lesson via a classroom-based webcam. This will allow them to interact, virtually, with their classmates and teaching staff. This synchronous learning model will extend to social opportunities as well, including, but not limited to: morning meeting and lunchtime.

  • Mental Health

    A message from Katie Thormodsgaard, MSW, LICSW - Director of Clinical Services:

    COVID-19 has created and will continue to create uncertainty that amplifies anxiety and elevated feelings. We can get through this, together. Here are some tips for well-being in the COVID-19 era:

     

    • Keep an open dialogue. You may not have the answer for your child, but if you can keep the conversation going it will help with anxious feelings and thoughts. It is important that your child feels comfortable talking to you about their fears and worries.
    • Limit television coverage, social media and news exposure. It can be alarming and there is a lot of misinformation. If you have an older child that researches on their own, discuss what they’ve seen or heard so you have an understanding of what they have been exposed to.
    • You may feel elevated or anxious yourself. A key thing to remember is that anxiety feeds anxiety. It is important to talk to your child with confidence and not avoidance. The more you avoid the topic the more fearful your child may become.
    • Doing calming strategies together is important. It will help you and your child return to baseline. Your child will feel more comfortable and confident if they see their parent engaging in the strategies. It is an activity that can become a habit and family focused.

    “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” Jane D Hull

  • Health & Safety

    Campus Safety


    Your Family’s Role

    • Stay home when sick.
    • Be mindful of the following symptoms associated with Covid-19: fever at or greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
    • Be aware of possible close contact exposure outside of school. The CDC defines close contact as being within 6 feet of a symptomatic person for more than 15 minutes cumulatively over a 24-hour period.
    • Encourage frequent hand washing while at home, especially before and after eating, using shared objects around the house, and before and after going out into the community.
    • Practice wearing a mask and social distancing in multiple settings.
    • Teach respiratory etiquette such as sneezing and coughing into one’s elbow.
    • Help your child to feel emotionally safe by listening to and validating how they are feeling.

    AOWL’s Role - Maintaining Student and Staff Health

    Key Terms:

    Cleaning: Physically removing germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects using soap (or detergent) and water or other cleaners.

    Disinfecting: Kills germs on surfaces and objects using chemicals.

    Social Distancing: Keeping 6 feet of space between yourself and other people outside of your home to reduce exposure from close contact with others.

    The CDC defines exposure from close contact as being within 6 feet of an infected individual for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period.


    Mitigation Strategies:

    Social Distancing: AOWL has implemented a number of social distancing measures that allow for 6 feet of physical distance among students and staff at all times. We’ve also modified spaces where social distancing in classrooms and other spaces is not possible with plexiglass barriers.

    Staff and students wear masks: Given the sensory needs of our students, in addition to any other underlying health conditions, students and staff may also utilize face shields as an alternative to cloth face masks. It is recommended that families have multiple mask options for students and wash them daily after use, in accordance with the guidelines set by the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health.

    • AOWL will provide disposable face masks for just-in-case type scenarios
    • AOWL will build times into all students' days for “mask break” times when students don’t have to wear masks.

    Staff health screenings: All staff will be required to complete a daily temperature check and exposure and symptom screening before coming into school.

    Student health screenings: Students will have their temperatures taken using touchless thermometers daily. Students will also be asked a series of questions about exposure and symptoms at least weekly.

    *AOWL has a full symptomatic person response plan in place in the event that a staff or student tests positive or displays symptoms related to COVID-19. The plan can be found at this link.

    Hand washing and access to sanitizing stations: Students and staff will have scheduled times throughout their days for hand washing and sanitizing.

    • Hand sanitizer stations located at each entrance to use before entering the building and before leaving at the end of the day. Hand sanitizer will also be encouraged when hand washing is not possible.
    • Hand washing routines built into the day, including times immediately before: eating, leaving the classroom, leaving the school, using shared classroom spaces.
    • Hand washing routines built into the day, including times immediately after: eating, entering the classroom, using shared classroom spaces, using the bathroom, sneezing, coughing.

    New cleaning/disinfecting procedures: AOWL has developed new cleaning and disinfecting routines to better protect the health and safety of our students and staff.

    • 4x daily cleaning and disinfecting of all spaces in our building. Cleaning and disinfecting shared classroom spaces between each student's use.
    • Use of a cleaning tool called an electrostatic sprayer, which enables more thorough disinfection of our spaces. Electrostatic sprayers work by charging disinfectants so that the droplets repel one another and actively seek out environmental surfaces, which they stick to and even wrap around to coat all sides.
    • New disinfectant for use with the electrostatic sprayer which meets CDC and EPA criteria for use against COVID-19. This disinfectant is effective for up to 28 days after it is sprayed.

    Hallway traffic modifications: All hallways in our building have been modified with “lanes” indicating the direction of traffic and enabling 6 feet of distance between students and staff passing in the halls. The hallways are also marked with visual cues for students to show distancing while transitioning as a group. Bathroomcapacity will be reduced to one student at a time. All bathrooms have been outfitted with a push light near their entrances, which students will turn on using their elbow, to indicate to other students that the bathroom is in use.

    Outdoor learning: We will hold classes in outdoor learning spaces as often as possible. We have enabled dependable WiFi access for student devices while learning outdoors.

    Avoid student crossover as much as possible: Classrooms will only be paired in environments that allow for distancing between larger groups, such as in the gym and outdoors. Specialist Teachers will rotate between classrooms and each class will have its own dedicated specialist period.

    Reworking communal spaces: Some of our communal spaces, like the learning commons, are being converted to what we are calling “flexible learning spaces.” These areas may be used as extra classroom spaces, assessment spaces, clinic services spaces, in addition to other uses as well. This helps us to reduce crossover between multiple groups of students and ensures proper cleaning and disinfecting of these spaces.

     

  • Beyond the Bell

    Go to the Beyond the Bell page here for all details regarding offerings for the 2020/21 school year.

  • FAQ's

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Can distance learners have an opportunity to connect with their teacher and classmates during the school day?

    A: We understand the importance of having distance learners connect with their teacher and in-person classmates. Throughout the school year, we will build in many opportunities for distance learners to connect with both their teachers and their in-person peers.

    Q: How will we teach essential routines like hand washing, turning/off lights, opening doors, using the bathroom, etc.?

    A: Through AOWL’s distinct, balanced approach that addresses academics, social, and life skills, our experienced staff is already equipped to teach essential life skills, specifically hygiene habits, through these unprecedented times. To ensure a safe environment, teaching staff will teach new essential routines based on CDC and MDH guidance. Teaching staff will demonstrate, offer time to practice, and give feedback in order to establish routines and continue to stress the importance to their students. Students will continue to practice these routines throughout the year.

    Q: Who do I contact for distance learning support?

    A: Please contact your student's case manager or homeroom teacher.

    Q: If my student starts the year doing in-person learning and our family becomes uncomfortable with it, can they switch to distance learning?

    A: A family can always switch their student from in-person to distance learning. When a family chooses to have their student go into the distance learning model, they are choosing to remain learning-at-home until after winter break. If the choice has been made for a student to switch to distance learning, we will ask families to give us a one week period to allow our teaching staff to prepare for this transition.

    While students can switch from in-person to distance learning at any time, unfortunately, students may NOT switch from distance learning to in-person learning until after winter break. We will reach out to families who have opted for distance learning to discuss instruction options as winter break approaches.

    Q: Can my child(ren) participate in distance learning for non-COVID-related absences?

    A: No. Because we are committed to ensuring that our staff is able to sustain supporting distance learners and in-person learners, we are unable to accommodate distance learning for absences unrelated to COVID-19.

    Q: What are the school day hours for each school? How will AOWL be keeping students socially distanced during dismissal?

    A: In Learning Levels 1-3, student arrival and dismissal times will be staggered. For Lower School the school day hours are 8:00am-3:00pm, Middle School hours are 8:15am-3:15pm, and High School hours are 8:30am-3:30pm. In order to practice social distancing during dismissal, students will be called one at a time down to their cars. Once a student has been called and has exited the building, the next student in the queue of cars will be called. 

    Q: Will Beyond the Bell programs be offered this year?

    A: Please visit the Beyond the Bell webpage for more information.

    Q: If my student drives themself to school, how would you recommend they handle health screening? Simply get in line with the other vehicles and then park after they are cleared?

    A: That's correct! Your student can simply join the queue of cars at drop off. Once finished, they can park and enter through the High School entrance. 

    Q: Why are we able to have a different plan than public schools?

    A: One of the many extraordinary things about AOWL is our 4:1 student/teacher ratio. AOWL has a maximum of eight students and two teaching staff in a classroom, compared to MDE’s public school recommendation of 28 students for the same size classroom. The square footage per student at AOWL is approximately 500 square feet, compared to MDE’s public school recommendation of 100-150 square feet per student. AOWL has significantly more space for students to spread out and practice social distancing. 

    This specialized approach importantly distinguishes our school model from public school models. We are uniquely able to fully implement all of the Center for Disease Control recommendations in addition to our own supplemental precautionary measures.

    Q: Will students be given a computer to use at home if distance learning?

    A: Students who do not have a device for use at home during distance learning or at-home virtual learning will be provided with a Chromebook. Students who do not have a device to use at home should reach out to your student’s homeroom teacher or case manager.

    Q: What will AOWL do in the event that a staff or student tests positive?

    A: AOWL has a full symptomatic person response plan in place in the event that a staff or student tests positive or displays symptoms related to COVID-19. The plan can be found using this link

    Q: Have you had any COVID-19 spread on campus?

    A: No. While we have had several isolated incidents of COVID-19, in each instance, we implemented our dynamic COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Plan and successfully avoided any COVID-19 spread.

    Q: How will we ensure that specialists and teachers have a manageable workload between teaching both in-person and distance learners?

    A:  Specialists teachers will only need to prepare one lesson, which is applicable to both in-person and distance learners. Our intention is for content to be as similar as possible, whether a student is learning from home or in school. In a similar vein, academic content teachers (social studies, science, and life skills) will teach the same content, and Middle school students will be taught synchronously. Middle school students will log into a Google Meet which connects them directly with the teacher and the content being taught in the classroom, as well as their in-person classmates. When working independently, distance learning students will access their work through Google Classroom, just the same as in-person students will.

    Q: When and how do we notify the school about whether we will be staying home?

    A: Notify AOWL as soon as possible by emailing office@aowl.org and your student’s homeroom teacher. Please include the reason for absence and any symptoms the student is experiencing. If the absence is COVID-19 related, the COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Coordinator will reach out with more specific guidance. 

    Q: Does the stay at home policy apply to anyone with symptoms or only to anyone with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis? Does a student need to stay home if their symptoms can be explained by something else?

    A: Students who have any symptoms associated with COVID-19 should remain at home while quarantining/awaiting testing in accordance with the Symptomatic Person Response Plan. If a condition, such as a runny nose, can be explained by a diagnosed pre-existing condition, such as allergies, then that student would come to school or return to school. The Minnesota Department of Health released this tool called Decision Tree for People with COVID-19 Symptoms in Youth, Student, and ChildCare Programs which is the basis for our Symptomatic Person Response Plan. 

    Q: How many people can be in a classroom at one time?

    A: The maximum number of people who can be present in a classroom (including staff) is 10. 

    Q: If a family member has been exposed to COVID-19 should the student stay home?

    A: If a family member of a student has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19, then that student should remain home while their family member is tested and awaiting results. That student can return to school if their family member receives a negative test result for COVID-19 and is not displaying any symptoms. If a family member were to test positive for COVID-19 or begin displaying symptoms, then that student should quarantine along with the rest of their family for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. It may also be beneficial for other members of the family to be tested as well, depending on advice from a medical professional. 

    Students who are quarantined due to exposure from a family member, who are still well enough to learn virtually, can be moved to a temporary virtual learning period of instruction. We ask that our teachers are given a minimum of 2 days to prepare for this temporary switch to virtual learning. 

    Q: What are you considering COVID-19 symptoms?

    A: The following are symptoms that are associated with COVID-19, according to the CDC:

    fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. The symptoms associated with COVID-19 are subject to change. We will update this list periodically in accordance with CDC guidance.

    Q: What should I do if I have more questions? 

    A: Please contact Louis Bakalars, COVID-19 Safety and Preparedness Coordinator, or Brenda Tollas, Head of School. All questions are welcome! This page will be updated with additional questions as they are received.