Great Expectations

Great Expectations School preparing for distance learning after Thanksgiving

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Minnesota had three options for student interaction at the beginning of the school year–in-person, distance-learning or a combination of the two in a hybrid model.

Great Expectations School (GES) in Grand Marais started the school year with the in-person learning model and it appears to have been successful. As of November 10, there have been no students or staff at Great Expectations with positive COVID-19 results.

Despite that, GES has made the decision to implement distance learning beginning the week of Thanksgiving. The decision was made in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the county and in hopes to avoid “yo-yo-ing” between modes as positive cases change in the county.

There will be no school for Great Expectation students on Monday, November 23 and Tuesday, November 24, as teachers finalize their work to implement distance learning. There are some GES students who are already participating in school via distance learning, participating in classes remotely. So some modifications will have to be made.

A break for Thanksgiving begins the next day, Wednesday, November 25 and students would have been on break anyway. When school resumes on November 30, it will be with distance learning.

In a memo to Great Expectations parents, Director Pete James explains, “We will then go into a “pre-emptive” distance learning mode for all students for the period beginning immediately after the break and going through the first two weeks in January.

“This effectively skips us past the hybrid transitions and related disruptions, allowing us to implement a proactive approach to navigate through what is generally expected to be a volatile period for infections (COVID and otherwise),” James wrote.

During the distance learning period, GES will still provide childcare for essential workers and on-site support for many students with an individual education plan (IEP).

Great Expectations School hopes to resume its in-person learning mode in January 2021.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Director James about this change.