Nearly 21% of Mankato students opt for distance learning

Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 6:36 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — In a school year unlike any other, many districts are going with a hybrid or remote learning concept.

While Mankato Area Public Schools will be starting with a hybrid model, remote learning is still an option for parents who aren’t comfortable sending their children to school.

”They’ll start their day with some kind of a connection with the teacher live with most of them, especially in the elementary, and then it will break into the different parts of the day like reading, math, the core content areas like health, science and social studies,” explained Distance Learning Coordinator Jody Rittmiller. “They’ll have some breaks and stuff built into their day just like an academic day so snack time, lunch time and outside to move around.”

Originally, the district was anticipating about 15% of the student body to opt for remote learning. Those numbers have actually risen, as 1,646 students will be learning from home, or 20.5%, out of 8,970 possible students.

The district says they have learned how to better teach over distance compared to the couple of months they did it in the spring.

”A lot of it has been around staffing, so we have had to add more staff in the buildings to the virtual academy for elementary. In the middle and high school, they have had to do a little more to change course loads to in-person to the distance,” added Rittmiller.

The decision for families is not final, but it will be more difficult to opt-in this year compared to a new student moving into the district in past years.

”We do become very cognizant of the numbers that we got and we can’t ask a teacher to work with 45 kids and we can’t try to put more kids in a classroom than we can do so,” said Teaching and Learning Director Travis Olson. “We are going to really have to ask for the patience of our families and being able to make those adjustments.”

Both say the distance learning students will be expected to learn the same material and complete the same workload in the amount of time as their hybrid learning peers.

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