Fall 2020 Learning Announcement

Dear DPS Families,

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we, too, have waited for a clear direction on how to organize learning this fall. Governor Walz announced school district operations for the 2020-21 school year will be driven by county-level COVID-19 virus metrics provided by the Minnesota Department of Health. It is clear that our local collective effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 will determine whether or not learners can attend school in-person.

We were hoping to have a final answer from the Governor, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Education on what the fall would look like. Based on the direction from the Governor, we anticipate needing additional time to analyze how we apply, implement and adapt these parameters at Discovery Public School of Faribault, and to communicate with other school leaders in the district. Because our transportation is provided by Faribault Transportation, our plans will have to align with those of the Faribault Public Schools. We understand the challenge this uncertainty causes for families and staff and we want you to know that we will communicate as quickly as possible when decisions are made. 

Even though a decision about the fall has not been made at this time, the Governor’s announcement did provide some guidance on how we will begin school this fall and move between models. Districts will use COVID-19 data — the number of cases per 10,000 over 14 days by residence of the county —  to determine the appropriate model of learning:

  • 0-9, In-person learning for all students
  • 10-19, In-person learning for elementary students and hybrid for secondary students
  • 20-29, Hybrid learning for all students
  • 30-49, Hybrid learning for elementary students and distance learning for secondary students
  • 50+, Distance Learning for all students

We are working with MDH to get timelines for decision making and baseline data for Rice County. We will provide further updates when possible, and a decision will be announced the week of August 17th. 

Faribault High School has changed their 2020-21 school calendar to start later because of the pandemic. As a result we are proposing a similar change to our school calendar. Our proposed start date will be September 8th, the Tuesday after Labor Day. This start date will not be official until it is approved by our school board. We are also planning a small open house on August 26th from noon to 6 pm. Students and families can visit the newly remodeled old building, meet staff and teachers, and see how classrooms will be arranged for hybrid or in person learning. Social distancing and face masks will be required while in the building.

Full Time Distance Learning Option

For families who are concerned about contracting the virus, a full time distance learning option is available. You may opt into a full time distance learning option, regardless of what other learning model may be in place.

This full time distance learning option will have more direct instruction time (via video chat, phone or text communication, or instructional time spent in an online learning environment), compared to our Spring 2020 distance learning.

Learners who opt into the Academy will:

  • Participate in meetings with teachers in the appropriate licensure area
  • Meet all grade learning objectives and DPS graduation requirements
  • Demonstrate learning through multiple pathways

If you would like to opt your learner into the Distance Learning Option, please complete this form as soon as possible. For planning purposes we are asking families to opt in for at least the first quarter (through early November). In order to complete our planning process this registration form will close Friday, August 21, at 11:59 p.m. Any enrollment requests into the distance learning option after this date should be directed to Dan Weisser (dweisser@isd4081.org).

Our Hybrid Model

We wanted to give families a picture of what the hybrid model would entail should any of our learning levels move to this scenario. Within the hybrid model we will follow MDH guidance and the MDE guidance including, but not limited to the following:

  • Limit building occupancy to no more that 50% with sufficient room for social distancing
  • Limit room occupancy to no more than 50% with sufficient room for social distancing
  • Limit transportation occupancy to no more than 50% 

Face Coverings

As per the Governor’s Executive Order and Minnesota Department of Health requirements, all staff, learners, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings while in district buildings and on buses. Each learner will be provided a cloth face covering.

The goal of this message was to provide as much information as possible to our community following the governor’s announcement. Thank you once again for your patience and understanding as we prepare to serve your families in ever changing and unknown circumstances. We ask for your continued patience and grace as we continue to do things that have never been done before in our education system. Once again, please look for an update the week of August 17th. We will communicate as quickly as possible when decisions are made. 

Graduation 2020

Discovery Public School of Faribault held their Graduation Ceremony on Thursday June 4th.  The school hosted a drive up ceremony in order to practice social distancing.  Families stayed in their cars or gathered with their families in the grass.  Parents, family, and friends were able to view the ceremony virtually.


Dan Weisser, Director, spoke about the challenges of this year’s 2020 graduating class.  He expressed how proud he was of this year’s group of seniors for not giving up, and following through with their goals.  Seniors then received their diplomas while those in attendance applauded and showed their support.


Photographs taken by Sharon Hansen