A Start to the School Year Like No Other

by David Tarleton, Director of Education, PYC Arts & Technology High School

David Tarleton

In response to COVID-19, Minneapolis Public Schools began the school year in distance learning-only mode, which meant a start to our school year unlike any other. 

We began by inviting students to create a “Passion Project” in which they told us about themselves and described their most compelling interests. Students had also expressed concerns about managing seven different classes every day via distance learning, so we adjusted our fall class schedule to make it more manageable for them.

Teachers are working from home three days a week and are on-site for two. We’ve upgraded our capacity to communicate with students through social media and text messaging, and we’re using new software to create more engaging content.

Additional adaptations include setting appointments for students to meet with social workers and teachers one-on-one. Teachers are also expected to have office hours at least one evening a week so students who are working or helping out with younger siblings can talk with teachers at a time that works best for them. And as always, we’re carefully following the rules around face masks and physical distancing to help ensure the health of staff, students and families alike.  

These are just a few examples of how we’re continuously looking for new ways to engage students this year, and keep them on track for graduation. This is an equity issue and they deserve nothing but our best!

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