Update from Ely Public Schools Superintendent Erik Erie

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our school community in many ways that have been difficult for students, parents, teachers and support staff to contend with.
I want to thank everyone for doing their part in getting us through the first quarter of school with students still able to attend school in person (including Hybrid), rather than full time Distance Learning as other districts have moved to, and a situation we all experienced last spring.
We’ve had three smaller groups and a number of individuals having to quarantine, but through it all have been able to keep the schools open.
Every week our Ely Safe Learning Plan Advisory Council meets to discuss COVID-19 issues, look at new data, and make recommendations on what Safe Learning Model the schools should be in.
This past week brought a number of changes including new guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), St. Louis County Public Health, and new Executive Orders from Governor Walz.
Given all these changes we were advised by St. Louis County Public Health to revise our Restart Blueprint with the intention of helping people to better understand how decisions are made on what Safe Learning Model the schools use.
Right now 6-12 grade students in the Memorial are in Hybrid learning while Washington Elementary remains with In-Person learning. These Safe Learning Models were recommended after consultation with St. Louis County Public Health and going through our weekly data review process with the Ely Safe Learning Plan Advisory Council. The revised Restart Plan will be posted on our website and Facebook page.
Our teachers have been tasked with providing both In-Person learning and Distance Learning at the same time with our current Safe Learning Plan.
Recognizing that more planning time is required to teach in these multiple formats, the Governor issued Executive Orders 20-94 and 20-95 that mandates schools provide additional preparation time for teachers and have those plans in place by Nov. 30.
At our School Board meeting on Monday, an Early Release proposal for Wednesdays was recommended by our Administration Team and approved by the School Board. The Early Release time on Wednesdays will have students dismissed at noon.
The following message was sent to families to explain Early Release Wednesday:
Early Release for the Ely Public Schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Ely Public Schools acknowledge that using multiple learning models including In-Person Learning and Distance Learning have created extra work for our teaching staff. To recognize the extra work and create time for our teaching staff to fully prepare and plan for the additional learning models, the Ely Public Schools will be transitioning to an Early Release Day on Wednesdays.
What is an Early Release?
An early release day is a shortened school day. Students would be dismissed at noon every Wednesday. This early release will only affect Wednesday’s. All other school days will remain the same. All students would still have access to a school lunch.
Why are Ely Public Schools implementing an Early Release Day?
The early release will give teaching staff the extra time to plan and prepare for all learning models that they are required to teach as mandated by the Minnesota Department of Education. Currently, all teachers are teaching both In-Person Learning and Distance Learning.
Both learning platforms require different planning and preparation. In order for our teaching staff to provide the best educational experience for our students, they need time to prepare. This will also give teachers common planning time to meet and collaborate with different grade level teams to find ways to fill educational gaps and expand instruction.
When will the Early Release Days begin?
The Ely Public Schools will implement Early Release Days beginning on Wednesday, November 18th.
How long will Early Release Days go?
The Ely Public Schools will only utilize Early Release Days while the teaching staff is teaching Distance and Hybrid Models of Learning.
Will child care be provided on Early Release Days?
Child care is not provided on Early Release Days.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: eerie@ely.k12.mn.us or 218.750.4564