Safe Start Learning Plan


NEW! Return to in-person and Hybrid Learning Models in January- Details

January 7, 2021

All E-5 Students will return to in-person learning on January 11th.

Group 1, grades 6-12 students will return to in-person/hybrid learning on January 11th.

Group 2, grades 6-12 students will return to in-person/hybrid learning on January 14th.

Safe Start Learning Plan (Parent Book).pdf

Plan Overview

The health and safety of our staff, students and families is our highest priority. Throughout the entire school year, Owatonna Public School District 761 will closely monitor the progress of COVID-19 in our community. Following guidance from and in partnership with state and local health departments and local medical experts, the district will need to adapt its plans in response to evolving health conditions and local needs. This plan outlines three learning models or scenarios for the 2020-21 school year. These three models will allow us flexibility in provide more or less in-person learning in response to changing local COVID-19 metrics. Additionally, families have the option to choose a full-time distance learning option for the first semester or possibly the school year.

Planning for a safe school start this fall creates the unique opportunity to strengthen partnerships and our commitment to work together as a community with the shared mission to Inspire Excellence. Every Learner, Every Day.

We invite you to download the plan or use the top left button or the table of contents below to explore its details. Additional plan details for staff only may be found on our Safe Start Learning Plan for Staff site.


Traditional, In-class face to face learning with modifications for social distancing

A combination of In person and distance learning with creative space utilization to maximize in person attendance.

Students use an online platform to learn from home.

Option available to all students requiring a minimum commitment of 1 semester.

Priorities & Guiding Principles Used to Develop the Models

The models incorporate the following priorities:

  • Prioritize the safety of students and staff

  • Prioritize in-person learning, especially for younger learners

  • Consider infection and transmission risk among different ages, taking into account disease prevalence at a local level

  • Improve distance learning and prepare all students to learn remotely if necessary

  • Provide a full-time distance learning option at all grades.

Guiding Principles

  • All students and families will have access to quality educational materials and to the supports needed to successfully access those materials.

  • Students will have access to meaningful/high-quality educational materials that align to State standards.

  • Students and schools/teachers will maintain a personal connection that supports necessary, rigorous academic work in a manner that is respectful of students’ contexts (their mindset, feelings, responsibilities, home considerations, etc.).

  • Simplicity is best during this time—simplicity of the framework, communication structures, expectations.

  • Support the whole child—their mental health, nutritional needs, and safety needs.

  • Parents and other caregivers need access to clear information and ample resources.

  • Teachers may need support, encouragement, and compassion to ensure their success and resilience.

Message from Superintendent Jeff Elstad

August 2020

As we all know, these unprecedented times have made us reconsider how we go about educating our students. The impressive levels of public participation show that we are, indeed, all in this together.

Throughout the entire school year, Owatonna Public Schools’ Safe Start Learning Plan will use guidance from state and local health department officials, local medical experts and Minnesota Department of Education to advise our practices. This year's return to school will come with some new protocols and procedures in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. While it will alter certain aspects of the school day, our goal is to maintain a normalized environment where students can learn and teachers can teach.

In addition, our plan includes information regarding health and safety, such as health screening information and symptoms to look for, face coverings/masks, cleaning/sanitizing procedures, transportation on school buses, safe food services, childcare and other helpful resources.

Our plan is based upon Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan, which prioritizes student/staff safety and health, data-driven decision-making and the importance of local school districts to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of their students, families and communities. We continue to work closely with local, county and state partners to educate, promote and encourage the community of Owatonna to help us reach our collective goal of returning our students to a safe and healthy learning environment.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to communicate with you throughout the school year. We look forward to our continued partnership with you to safely return our students to school.