Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Fall 2020 Update

Blake is currently operating under a Hybrid Teaching and Learning Plan (HTLP) to start the school year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. HTLP balances our school's strong preference for in-person teaching and learning with our equally strong commitment to the health and safety of our students and employees. This model ensures academic quality, supports student social and emotional well being and mitigates health risks. Families who wish to remain off campus during HTLP may opt for a remote attendance option, where students live-stream classes via cameras, laptops and other technology. For more information, read on.

Comprehensive Planning

In July, Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan. The plan uses a localized, data-driven approach that allows schools to deploy a learning model — remote, hybrid or in-person — that is responsive to the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in their community. As an independent school, Blake is not bound by this plan, but we have leveraged its comprehensive research and science-driven data to inform our decision to use a Hybrid Teaching and Learning Plan (HTLP) to start the 2020-21 school year.

Since late May, two Blake planning teams — one focused on operations and one focused on pedagogy — have worked on HTLP. More than 70 faculty and administrators from all divisions were involved. In addition to guidance from the governor and MDH, we have accessed in-depth interviews from five international independent schools, from Denmark to Japan, who have already re-opened and who have shared their operational plans with us. We also drew on the survey feedback we received last spring from Blake students, faculty and parents/guardians to improve online elements of teaching and learning and community building.

Hybrid Teaching and Learning

Why is a hybrid model appropriate for Blake? HTLP balances our school’s strong preference for in-person teaching and learning with our equally strong commitment to the health and safety of our students and employees. This model ensures academic quality, supports student social and emotional well being and mitigates health risks.

Because of Hennepin County’s current case counts, our school’s preparedness and our capacity to implement multiple mitigation strategies, the state’s parameters also indicate that a hybrid model is appropriate for Blake. Our Blake preparedness plans either meet or exceed the state’s required and recommended health best practices for a hybrid model.

Should the current local situation change, we are prepared to quickly pivot to our Remote Teaching and Learning Plan (RTLP). And families who wish to keep students off campus during HTLP may opt for a remote attendance option, where students live-stream classes via cameras, laptops and other technology.

Local and National Benchmarking

While we are paying close attention to local, county-based virus data as referenced above, we are also benchmarking against peer schools across the country. Among independent schools that are part of INDEX, a group of 100 PK/K-12, coed, day schools with 800 students or more, 75% are opening with a hybrid model. The remaining 25% are about half in person and half remote only. Among NAIS schools across the country, 40% are opening in person every day, 55% in hybrid, and 5% in remote only.

While there is no learning model that fits the needs of all, we have and will continue to diligently work through ways we can support our students, families and employees in the coming year.