Making our way back to MPA.

A Message From Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

As summer heats up, literally and figuratively, we know that back to school is right around the corner. As much as we would all like it to be, a return to school will not be a return to normal. To be sure, it will be a school year like no other. Nevertheless, the Administrative Team has been working very hard, planning for a joyful return to school that prioritizes the health and safety of our students, families, teachers, and staff in the can-do spirit of MPA. We intend to open for on-campus learning on August 26 as scheduled.

Our planning has led us to consult with medical professionals throughout the United States and has included research on best practices from around the world. Our own Community Advisory Group has also helped us work through this information as it applies to the MPA school community. As in life, there is no such thing as “zero risk,” in anything we do, and certainly not during a pandemic. However, there is scientific evidence that risks to students and staff can be kept low if schools adhere to strict control measures (especially masks) and dynamically respond to potential outbreaks.

Our plan is built upon flexibility with the ability to pivot and change as conditions warrant throughout the entire school year. The strong connection between the school and our wonderfully supportive parents is crucial to successfully navigate the uncertainty and I thank you in advance for your trust and partnership. Please know we are committed to frequent and transparent communication including Town Halls, email communications, training opportunities, and more. Below, you will learn more specifics about:

  • the learning environment at each division level;
  • tips from Dr. Jules Nolan about how to approach back to school with your children; and
  • additional details about the preventative and protective safety measures that will be in place.

Amid the uncertainty, I have confidence in our strong, caring community with creative and dedicated faculty and staff. The can-do spirit of MPA that has been with us since our founding enables us to successfully transcend whatever challenges we face. Please know how grateful I am that you entrust your children to all of us at MPA.

Learning
Living
Thriving
Planning
FAQs
LEARNING: THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE

We recognize the importance of being flexible and nimble in our planning so we can make adjustments as the COVID-19 situation changes. MPA dials are being used throughout our communications to reflect the learning environment the school is currently in. The dials represent four main scenarios that will guide the learning environment and the student on-campus experience and, because of our small size, there are additional stops possible between each of the four scenarios. At every stop on the dial we will prioritize the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the entire community. We understand that no single action or plan can completely eliminate the risk. We will layer safety protocols at all stops on the dial. With a comprehensive plan that reflects our mission and values and prioritizes the health, safety, and well-being of our community, we intend to begin the new school year on campus on August 26 with extensive safety protocols in place.


Moving the dial

by Renee Wright, Lower School director

We acknowledge the importance of Lower School students being on campus and have made this a priority. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages schools to make it a goal to get students physically back on campus in the fall. There is well documented evidence of the negative impact of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school often results in social isolation and can negatively impact the mental health and social development of students. Students need to be together to learn alongside classmates and need caring teachers to guide their curiosity and build knowledge and skills.

Lower School teachers will remain committed to strong learning based on the mission, vision, and values of Mounds Park Academy for all stops on the dial. We will assure excellence in the delivery of instruction and the continuity of learning. At the same time, we will remain committed to the social and emotional needs of our Lower School students. Play and opportunities to build peer relationships will be creatively addressed. Plenty of time for movement breaks and mindfulness activities will be embedded into the curriculum. Hands-on learning will continue with limited sharing of materials and proper cleaning of materials when sharing is necessary. Makerspace activities, design thinking, engineering opportunities, and problem-solving experiences will continue to be embedded in the curriculum. Advancements in technology and additional technology tools will allow teachers to employ innovative learning strategies and accommodate the needs of their students.

Stop 1: PreK-12 On Campus With Safety Measures in Place
Currently, the dial indicates that we are planning to be back on campus as usual with safety protocols in place. The typical schedule would be followed and students would move about the building from class to class. Students would learn as usual from their homeroom teacher and specialists. Some curriculum adjustments may be necessary to meet safety protocols. For example, music class will look at bit different because the science behind the virus shows that singing is a high-risk activity. We will make every attempt to reduce exposures during high risk times such as lunch, recess, bathroom breaks, and in hallways. Changes will be made to the classroom arrangements to allow for physical distancing. Changes will also occur in the lunch and recess schedule to eliminate large numbers of students being together in one space. Outdoor spaces will be utilized as much as possible for classes and even lunch when weather permits.

Stops 2 & 3: PreK-4 On Campus In Cohorts
We all know the uncertainty of the virus could push the dials to a more restrictive scenario. The middle two dials indicate scenarios that utilize the cohort model for Lower School—this model will allow all Lower School students to remain on campus longer than Middle and Upper School students due to the unique learning and childcare needs found in Lower School. The cohort model calls for minimizing class size and limiting the crossover of students between cohorts. Each grade level would be divided into smaller cohort groups. Our goal would be to keep the teacher/student ratio small. Cohort size would be dependent on the size of the classroom and our ability to keep students six feet apart. Movement of students between cohorts would be minimized. Homeroom teachers will rotate between cohorts to deliver instruction. Specialists will rotate into the classroom to deliver their lessons rather than having students move to another classroom. Cohorting will alter the schedule slightly and some lessons will be live streamed into classrooms on a rotation to limit exposure. Once again, some curriculum adjustments will be made to meet safety protocols. We will continue to cohort during high risk times such as lunch, recess, in hallways, and during bathroom breaks. Recess and lunch schedules may be staggered to limit the number of students in these spaces. No large group events or activities like Lower School’s Monday Morning Meetings will take place the way they have in the past and creative alternatives will be implemented. Outdoor spaces will also be used when weather permits.

Panther Club will be open to students before and after school when students are on campus. Panther Club will provide a safe place for students by following strict safety protocols. Students may arrive as early as 7 AM and can remain in the program to 6 PM. Students will have the opportunity to play and connect. Outdoor spaces will be utilized as much as possible.

Stop 4: PreK On Campus, K-12 In Virtual School
If the COVID-19 metrics worsen and create higher health risks to our community, the dial will move all the way to the left and students K-12 will be engaged in virtual school. While it is not possible to replicate learning activities our students experience on campus, we believe meaningful and engaging learning can take place at a distance. Our challenging academic program and high standards for teaching and learning will ensure the continuity of learning. We will build upon the success of virtual school 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. We understand that there is room for all of us to grow in this very unique style of teaching, so all Lower School faculty are taking a course through Global Online Academy this summer to enhance their knowledge and best practice in virtual learning. We are also currently looking at ways to make our Schoology platform more consistent and easier to navigate for parents. Once these changes have been finalized, we will provide training for students and parents so that Schoology can be used more effectively and efficiently.

The PreK environment will look a bit different than K-4 classrooms. Masks will not be required, and physical distancing rules will be more relaxed. These requirements would make it difficult for PreK students to play and interact. Social interactions are the essence of the PreK program and curriculum and are an essential foundation for our littlest ones. The cohort model will be implemented as much as possible and limited movement will occur throughout the building. Outdoor spaces will be utilized as much as possible. Safety protocols will be strict and in line with the requirements of the Department of Human Services as required for licensing and mandated by our school. We are committed to keeping our PreK program open at all stops on the dial in accordance with the State of Minnesota requirements for childcare centers.

It is truly taking a village to plan for the return to campus! I am thankful for the collaboration and community effort that is going into the planning and preparation. I remain confident that we will be well prepared as the situation evolves and I can confidently say that all decisions are grounded in what is best for children and families. Our students and teachers have learned to be even more resilient, so I know that we will remain nimble and be able to make adjustments as needed. We are extremely excited to get our Lower School students back on campus this fall. Even though school may look a bit different, being together is so very important.

by Dr. Jenn Milam, Middle School director

With each turn of the dial, the Middle School experience at MPA, will continue to be joyful and fun, engaged, and developmentally responsive. We learned over the course of our time in virtual school in the spring, that in-person, on-campus learning is a priority and is important for not only cognitive and academic development but also for social emotional learning and mental wellness. We are committed to having Middle School students on campus, with their teachers and one another, as much as possible.

What I share here are our thoughts reflected at each turn of the dial as they relate to the Middle School students experience. I am looking forward to welcoming our young people back to be with the friends they love, the school that nurtures them, and the teachers and staff who cherish them and cannot wait to work alongside them.

Stop 1: PreK-12 On Campus With Safety Measures In Place
When all students are on campus, your student can expect a typical A/B schedule with robust engagement across visual and performing arts, makerspace and technology, advisory, and academic disciplines. With comprehensive health and safety measures in place, students and teachers will continue learning and growing together.

A few noticeable changes to the student experience will include:

  • Masks will be required for all K-12 students, faculty, and staff.
  • Students in band, orchestra, and choir, will continue to have individual and small group instruction while their larger ensembles will not meet to mitigate risk of potential exposure. 
  • All academic field trips will be suspended until January 2021. We believe it is in the best interest of all students to minimize travel into the community for the foreseeable future.
  • Physical education will still prioritize physical activity; however, students will not change in gym locker rooms for class. We encourage students to dress comfortably for their day and to plan for activity/play.
  • Passing times and locker access will be staggered to discourage congregation in hallways. Teachers will coordinate passing times in between classes by grade level and students will carry with them throughout the day their books, supplies, and computers in a backpack. Locker access will be limited to first thing in the morning, before/after lunch and recess, and end of day. Students will not share materials during the day.
  • We will increase our use of outdoor spaces on our beautiful campus for instruction and play!

Stop 2: 5-12 In Hybrid Learning Model
When we move the dial to a hybrid learning approach, we limit the number of students (density) on campus at any given time as an important safety measure for students, faculty, and staff. In this model, we will attend school in a rotation where some students are at school and others are engaged, at home, in virtual school. 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. We know, in theory and in practice, that a rigorous, consistent, and predictable schedule is best for middle school students.

In one model of hybrid learning, grades 5/6 and grades 7/8 would be on campus on different days. Weeks would be designated as “Blue” or “White” to ensure a balance of days and instructional opportunities on campus. This model allows for regular classroom rotation throughout the day, an A/B schedule, with a focus on maximizing instructional experiences best had in person (i.e. science labs, art instruction, collaborative group projects) while virtual learning at home will be focused on instruction and learning experiences that can be supported at a distance (i.e. small group discussions in zoom, individual assignments and practice, written responses). Virtual classes will continue to be offered synchronously as they were in the spring with ZOOM and supported by Schoology, our Learning Management System.

In another model of hybrid learning, where more extensive constraints are placed on schools for health and safety reasons recommended by various governing bodies, Middle School students may be on- campus for just one or two days each week and placed into small “family” cohorts that limit cross-group interactions, as well as numbers of students on campus (density). In this model, the on-campus schedule is unique and tailored to each group and grade level and does not follow a typical rotation. These on-campus days become enrichment and support for extending the teaching and learning in virtual school, which will maintain the regular MPA middle school schedule.

In all iterations of hybrid learning, we hold as equal priorities the academic and social emotional learning that is the hallmark of MPA. It will remain our goal, to have students connected and on-campus as much as is safely possible.

On Campus Supervision For Hybrid Virtual School
The Middle School age is unique in that students are old enough to do many things independently but not always able to be left alone at home to manage their own virtual learning during the days they may be in rotation. For those students with parents that work outside of the home and are unable to supervise their virtual learning (or are unable to plan for supervision/childcare), MPA will offer limited on-campus supervision for Middle School students. Should we determine that we will be in a hybrid model of learning, requests will be considered on an individual basis.

Students requiring on campus supervision, will attend virtual classes while supervised in a school space. Our goal is to make this a comfortable place for learning for students and to support the social, emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing of students who must be in virtual school but cannot be at home unsupervised.

Panther Den & Middle School Study Hall
We understand that for many families after school care and supervision are important. It is our plan that Middle School study hall and Panther Den will continue at any turn of the dial where Middle School students are on campus.

Middle School study hall will continue immediately afterschool until 4 PM at no additional cost to parents. This will remain a quiet, structured, and productive time for Middle Schoolers to complete homework. Students will be required to report to study hall immediately following a short visit to their lockers at the end of the school day to limit gathering in common spaces. Safety protocols used in classrooms during the regular school day will extend to the study hall environment, as well.

Panther Den will also remain an option for Middle School students needing after school care immediately after the end of the day or following study hall. Activities, opportunities for safe social interaction, and quiet time to read or complete schoolwork will continue to be part of the Panther Den after school programming. Parents are billed monthly for the days students attend Panther Den.

Stops 3 & 4: 5-12 Virtual School OR K-12 In Virtual School
Should we find ourselves in another moment where ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our students and community warrant the return of Middle School to virtual learning, the lessons learned and the successes shared in the spring of 2020 will be reflected in our programming. Additionally, our teachers have been working hard all summer with other independent school faculty across the globe, to strengthen their curriculum and build even more engaged, inquiry-driven, and student-centered learning experiences for virtual learning.

Parents and students can expect a fully synchronous school day with regularly scheduled classes from 8 AM to 3 PM in virtual school. Teachers will expect students to report to class via ZOOM on-time, complete assignments and projects, and participate actively and thoughtfully in class—just as they do when on-campus. In partnership with parents at home, we will work together to scaffold student learning and ensure the continuance of academic progress. The MPA curriculum that is joyfully rigorous and guided by research will continue seamlessly in the virtual world while accompanied by the continuance of clubs, social opportunities, and enrichment experiences Middle School students know and love.

Let’s Meet In The Middle
In the Middle School at MPA, we offer young people opportunities to be themselves, explore new ideas, be challenged by difficult lessons, connect with their peers, question the world around them, be silly, serious, and a little bit sassy. No matter the mode of delivery in the coming year, we are committed to your student, to you as a family, and to fiercely loving and learning together in a world where the creativity, resilience, and enduring spirit of Middle Schoolers is needed more than ever. Indeed, in the middle is a marvelous place to be.

by Mark Segal, Upper School director

The MPA Administrative Team continues to meet multiple times a week to examine our reopening this fall and explore how we will best support the continuity of learning for all of our students. As you may imagine, my focus is toward the Upper School and its students. This communication will provide you with our thinking about the fall and will align with the MPA dial that provides a comprehensive plan that reflects our mission and values and prioritizes the health, safety, and well-being of our community.

Stop 1: PreK-12 On Campus With Safety Measures In Place
The current plan is to welcome all students back to campus, with appropriate safety measures in place, on Wednesday, August 26. Students will follow their regular daily schedule allowing for traditional academic and elective classes to meet. Classrooms will be set up in a physically distanced arrangement where Minnesota Department of Health and CDC guidelines are maintained. Classroom teachers and administrators will work with one another to create a schedule to coordinate passing time where students rotate between their classes and one-way hallways and stairwells have been established to mitigate the risk of the COVID-19 virus. All courses will be held as scheduled. To best protect students enrolled in the 9/10 PE course and the PE electives students are asked to wear comfortable clothing to school as they will not be changing nor using the locker rooms for the foreseeable future. Also, our instrumental and choral music programs are integral to the ethos of our community and we intend on holding these courses, and are examining ways in which smaller ensembles and small group lessons will be held.

Stop 2: 5-12 In Hybrid Learning Model
Should the MPA dial need to shift to the 5-12 hybrid model, the goal will be to safely have as many Upper School students on campus, as possible, while still maintaining appropriate safety measures. In this case, the Upper School will most likely be broken down by thirds alphabetically by last name and be on a three-day rotation. The rotation would look something like this:

  • Day 1: Groups A and B would be on campus and Group C would attend classes virtually.
  • Day 2: Groups B and C would be on campus and Group A would attend classes virtually.
  • Day 3: Groups A and C would be on campus and Group B would attend classes virtually.

This rotation would ensure that each student would be on campus two to three times each week for in-person learning with the other days having synchronous virtual learning. Each student would also be assigned a buddy in each class who is in a different 1/3 of the alphabet and it would be the responsibility of the buddies to work with one another to review that day’s lessons. Each buddy pairing will be on campus 2/3 of the time either together or separately.

Stops 3 & 4: 5-12 Virtual School Or K-12 In Virtual School
If the dial shifts to virtual school, Upper School students will have a similar educational experience to the spring of 2020. Students will maintain their regular daily schedule where each of their classes will meet and continuity of learning will occur at the high-quality level for which MPA is known. During this time, the Upper School will be able to nimbly pivot to our online learning scenario and will maintain our regular daily schedule where each class meets, synchronously, at its regular interval. Thankfully, our experience from last spring was positive and we are confident that we can offer a similar high-quality, college preparatory education to our students as if we were on campus while addressing the inevitable challenges that will arise. Rest assured, we are also examining ways in which to best support our students socially and emotionally as we know their mental well-being is impacted if we are unable to be on campus.

I recognize that this is a considerable amount of information to read and digest. We continue to actively plan to have each student on campus at the end of August as we know that that is what is best for students and what each of us wants. It is, however, important that you are aware of the scenario planning and possibilities that are being discussed for the 2020-21 school year. We will continue to follow the guidance and direction of the Minnesota Department of Health, the CDC, and MPA’s Community Advisory Group and remain in frequent contact with you as we learn more throughout the summer.

In the meantime, please enjoy time with your family and friends (physically distanced, of course) and do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to your family.

Dial
The image above is MPA's dial, designed to reflect the learning environment the school is currently in, or will be in, when in session next. It contains four main scenarios and illustrates there are options between the main scenarios. As a private, independent school, we have more flexibility than public school systems, thus we have more possible scenarios.

Cohort
Prioritizing the unique needs of Lower School children, a cohort model at MPA is one that keeps groups of young students together and limits their movement on campus. For example, during a cohort model at MPA, teachers would rotate rather than students. This would be used as a protective safety measure.

Hybrid Learning
This is used to describe learning in which some, but not all, traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by virtual learning activities. For example, during hybrid learning at MPA, Middle and Upper School students would be on campus for the learning activities that are most successfully done in person.

Density
The hybrid learning option at MPA would reduce the number of students on campus. This allows for greater social distancing, a key protective safety protocol. The small class sizes that we enjoy allow us to start from a lower density position.

Virtual School
Similar to how it was implemented this spring, virtual school will vary by division. With a focus on maintaining routines and meeting families where they are, learning under this model would continue to be rigorous, reliable, and joyful.

PreK-12 On Campus With Safety Measures In Place
This is where MPA intends to start the school year. This will be possible assuming COVID-19 metrics continue to stabilize and/or improve.

PreK-4 On Campus In Cohorts, 5-12 In Hybrid Learning Model
The MPA dial will move to this scenario if COVID-19 metrics worsen at the state or local level and/or MPA community spread occurs. MPA has the flexibility due to campus and class size to keep PreK-4 on campus in cohorts due to the unique learning and childcare needs of Lower School families and welcome students in grades 5-12 on campus on a rotating basis.

PreK-4 On Campus In Cohorts, 5-12 In Virtual School
The MPA dial will move to this scenario if COVID-19 metrics continue to worsen and/or MPA community spread occurs. This is a more restrictive hybrid scenario designed to further reduce the density on campus and prioritize the unique learning and childcare needs of our Lower School families. It may be possible for MPA to use this scenario while public schools are only able to be virtual.

PreK On Campus, K-12 In Virtual School
The MPA dial will move to this scenario if COVID-19 metrics continue to worsen and the Governor orders all schools in virtual learning. This would be a shelter in place type situation. The State of Minnesota would likely allow childcare centers to remain open, which is why PreK may remain open, as a licensed childcare center.

LIVING ON & OFF CAMPUS: SAFETY

Scientific evidence from public health experts, the MN Department of Health, and the CDC indicates that risks to students and staff can be kept low if schools adhere to strict control measures and dynamically respond to potential outbreaks. While there is never a “zero risk” scenario, we strive to achieve low risk through layered protocols that can adapt to the uncertainty of this pandemic.

MPA will continue its focus on layered protection, shared responsibility, a commitment to equity, being flexible, and erring on the side of caution. Through this planning, we have considered how we can achieve health, safety, and wellness in the classroom, building, through policies, schedules, activities, and in our community connections. Additionally, planning and adaptation will continue this summer and throughout the school year as we react to the dynamic changes occurring in our school and local communities.

Teachers will educate students on the importance of these protocols, provide ample opportunities to practice these safety strategies, and shepherd students in a positive and non-threatening manner throughout the school day.

MPA will continue to refine and enhance these and other protocols in consultation with our planning team, health officials, and Community Advisory Group as we approach the school year. Families will be provided a detailed list of mitigation strategies, as well as a Family Health and Safety Pledge to sign and return prior to August 1. This pledge provides the expectations for the shared responsibilities and partnership between the school and families with the goal of everyone’s health, safety, and wellness in mind. Families and students will also be provided developmentally appropriate training tools and resources to help prepare for our new normal and how we can maintain everyone’s health and safety and we make our way back to MPA.

Please continue below for more detailed information about the layered preventative and protective safety measures that will be in place this fall.

FAMILIES' ROLE

All of these preventative safety protocols will be in place at the beginning of the school year and families should begin preparing for them this summer.

Families Role

MPA'S ROLE: HEALTHY STUDENTS & STAFF

All of these preventative and protective safety protocols will be in place at the beginning of the school year. MPA is also preparing for additional protocols and will be ready to implement if needed.

Commons

MPA'S ROLE: HEALTHY ENVIRONMENTS

All of these preventative and protective safety protocols will be in place at the beginning of the school year. MPA is also preparing for additional protocols and will be ready to implement if needed.

Community Gatherings

COMMUNITY GATHERINGS

Coming to campus will look a little bit different. Just as soon as we are able, we will loosen restrictions. Alternative plans are being developed for choir and ensemble classes and lunchtime, for example.

Community Gatherings

ATHLETICS

Mounds Park Academy is following the lead of the Minnesota State High School League on returning to play for the 2020 fall sports season. At this time, the MSHSL is asking schools and athletic directors to prepare as normal for the fall season that begins on August 17, 2020.

Athletics

 

These should be done every morning before arriving at school and every evening.

Take your child’s temperature. If it is higher than 100.0 degrees, do not enter campus.

Answer the following checklist questions. If you answer yes to any of these questions, do not enter campus:

  • Are you experiencing any of the following: 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?
  • Do you have any reason to believe you or anyone in your household has been exposed to, cared for an individual who has tested positive, is in quarantine, or has or acquired COVID-19? 

Begin your screening routine at least 14 days prior to August 26 and continue screening during breaks and temporary closures.

Teach healthy hygiene.

  • Handwash frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Always wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. 

Teach and encourage MPA's health protocols.

  • Practice wearing a mask.
  • Practice keeping physical distance.

Practice respiratory etiquette.

  • Cover your mouth and nose while you cough or sneeze.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • The mask should fit snugly to cover the nose bridge, mouth, and chin and should not gap.
  • Masks should be made of tightly-woven cloth such as higher thread count cotton and 2-3 layers thick.
  • Ensure the mask fits around the ears, but isn’t too tight. 
  • Masks should be washed daily, so multiple masks are recommended to have on hand at home, and your student should arrive to school with two masks each day: wearing one, and an extra on hand.

Physical distancing: MPA is committed to six-foot physical distancing among students, faculty, and staff.

K-12 wear masks: It is recommended families find the appropriately sized mask for their children, to have several masks available, and to wash them frequently according to MN department of health and CDC guidelines. For any student or staff member with an underlying health issue or sensory sensitivities, face shields may be utilized as an alternative protective layer.

  • Face masks are especially important when in hallways or bathrooms or in proximity to students from other classes.
  • Training will be provided for students/families and staff on how to wear and care for masks, including daily washing and rotation and proper placement, among other topics. 
  • We are committed to building in time throughout the day where students and staff don’t have to wear masks, but we will maintain other layers of protection and physical distancing. 
  • Teachers may wear transparent face shields when teaching at the front of the room and face masks when working more closely with students. 

Home health screening: These will be completed by all employees prior to entering campus.

Student health screening: These will be done upon arrival of school, including taking temperatures and asking screening questions.

Frequent hand washing and sanitizing: There will be scheduled and structured opportunities for students and staff.

  • Students and employees will wash hands immediately before: leaving home, leaving the classroom, eating, touching shared objects, touching one’s face, and leaving school.
  • Students and employees will wash hands immediately after: arriving at school, entering classroom, finishing lunch, touching shared objects, using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, and blowing one’s nose, and arriving at home.
  • Use of hand sanitizer will be encouraged when washing hands is not possible.

Smiles, waves, and thumbs-ups: MPA teachers and staff will replace hugs, handshakes, and high-fives temporarily.

Training: Extensive training will be provided for students, parents, and employees.

Limited campus access for visitors: This will be combined with enhanced screening procedures for essential one-time visitors.

Enhanced facility cleaning and sanitizing: Includes sanitation for shared supplies between use, three times daily cleaning of all spaces, including high-touch items such as doorknobs, light switches, and other common use items.

Proper ventilation: MPA has the recommended negative return room ventilation model and will be utilizing outdoor classroom spaces, open doors and windows as often as possible and weather permitting.

Revised traffic flow: The use of signage, carpet stickers, and employee oversight, students and staff will maintain altered and staggered traffic patterns in the hallways and other shared spaces. Each division’s students will have access to certain parts of the building and the use of common areas will be restricted.

Revised use of social spaces: Shared campus spaces may be converted to accommodate large classes’ physical distancing requirements, for storage, and to ensure proper cleaning protocol can be implemented every day.

Disinfection: This includes shared objects and spaces between uses. Students will also be provided separate supplies when possible.

Move class outdoors: This will be done whenever possible, weather permitting.

Avoid large groups and gatherings: This includes orchestra, band, and choir classes and concerts. Small group ensembles and individual instruction will replace large-group classes.

Limit student movement: This includes moving between different classrooms and keep class groups as distinct and separate as possible.


THRIVING, NOT JUST SURVIVING

No matter what the coming school year holds, the virtual learning program at MPA is designed to be a seamless extension of the care we always provide our students, families, and community. It’s not only rigorous and reliable, it’s also engaging and infused with joy from beginning to end. Read some of the stories that emerged during the spring of 2020.

PLANNING

Planning for the 2020-21 school year began on April 7 by the Board of Trustees and the Administrative Team. A Teacher Task Force was created to draw upon the expertise and experience of our exceptional faculty to formulate proposals that respond to the unique pedagogical and developmental needs of learners at each grade level and division. At the same time, the Administrative Team consulted with other independent schools in the United States and around the world, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (our regional accrediting agency), and with state and local public health officials to create a plan to bring all students on campus as soon as we are safely able.

MPA has also formed a Community Advisory Group comprised of members of the larger MPA community with medical, public health, higher education, government, and legal experience. The purpose of the group is to review recommended steps and provide insights, suggestions, and best practices considering their personal connection to the school and their professional areas of expertise. They will meet regularly to review evolving plans. 

The resulting dynamic, flexible, 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. Bill Hudson, head of school, in consultation with the Board of Trustees, the Administrative Team, and the Community Advisory Group.

Community Advisory Group

Dr. Emily Binstadt '91, Regions Hospital, Emergency Medicine Physician
Jeremy Drucker '97, State of Minnesota, Public Affairs Consultant
Kevin Goodno, Fredrikson & Byron, PA, Attorney & Shareholder
Dr. Courtney Herring, Children’s Minnesota, Pediatric Hospitalist
Dr. Kurt Keogh, Allina Health, Emergency Medicine Specialist
Maurice Kuypers, Retired 3M, Global Business Manager, MPA Board of Trustee
Caroline Portoghese, Handi Medical Supply, Inc., Director of Rehab Operations

 

Matt Larson, City of St. Paul, Chief Innovation Officer; University of St. Thomas, Adjunct Faculty; MPA Board of Trustees Chair
Martha Burton Santibanez, Minnesota Department of Health, Assistant Division Director, Health Regulation Division
Brett Schreiber, Hennepin County, Senior System Software Engineer
Suzanne Schwartz, Hennepin County Medical Center, Director of Operations
John Willis, Carleton College, Associate Professor of History, Director of Africana Studies

Guiding Principles

Prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of our community.

Alignment with government orders and the guidelines of the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health.

Advance the continuity of learning.

Promote the social and emotional health of our students and, faculty, and staff.

Bring all students on campus as soon as we are safely able.

Focus on flexibility and nimbleness as the external circumstances change.

Honor the whole child education approach in arts, athletics, academic areas.

Transparent and frequent communication.

Unique pedagogical responses based on appropriateness for each developmental stage, PreK-12.

FAQs

Please direct your questions to communications@moundsparkacademy.org. Commonly asked questions will be catalogued here.

A: Enrollment is strong—in fact, we plan to welcome at least 80 new students to the community, despite COVID-19 and a nation-wide recession. Coupled with 21 mid-year enrollments, that is the most new students our school has welcomed in many years.

This is thanks, in large part, to referrals from community members like you. Thank you for your ongoing support as MPA's Office of Admission will likely need to remain virtual through the coming school year.

A: Tuition will remain at levels communicated in February. Whether on or off campus, tuition is necessary to deliver the MPA mission and education we all value. Together with annual giving, tuition is largely invested in the salaries, benefits, and professional development of our exceptional faculty and staff, whom we need to retain to deliver any of the scenarios detailed above. Tuition also provides the materials, supplies, and infrastructure required to advance the continuity of learning. Finally, whether on or off campus, we must continue to fund the fixed costs of maintaining our physical campus.

A: Once the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the MPA community quickly mobilized to raise nearly $150,000 for the MPA Community Care Fund to support important and emerging needs. Thanks to your generosity, the Community Care Fund has assisted many MPA families during their time of need, including:

  • financial assistance and flexibility for families impacted by COVID-19;
  • virtual learning technology and other expenses;
  • support for graduating MPA seniors in need; and
  • employee support funds.

As the pandemic continues to impact our families, the need continues to grow. The future is uncertain for many and thanks to the gifts from hundreds in our community, we have made a profound and meaningful difference when they needed it the most. If you would like to make a gift, please click here.

If you any have questions about the Community Care Fund, please email Jennifer Rogers, director of development and community engagement.

A: Once the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the MPA community quickly mobilized to raise nearly $150,000 for the MPA Community Care Fund to support important and emerging needs. Thanks to your generosity, the Community Care Fund has assisted many MPA families during their time of need. Is your family impacted by COVID-19 and in need of assistance? Click here to fill out a confidential form and a member of our administrative team will be in touch with you soon.

If you any have questions about the Community Care Fund, please email Jennifer Rogers, director of development and community engagement.