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Elementary Shift to Distance Learning

Dear Families/Students/Staff,

Last week we shared an anticipated shift to Distance Learning 2.0 for all K-5 students on December 7. Our hope was to give families as much time as possible to make plans for setting their student(s) up for success. While we had anticipated an increase in COVID-19 cases in Big Lake, Sherburne County and across the state over the next few weeks, numbers have increased at a more rapid pace than forecasted. 

Due to the rapidly rising COVID-19 rates, the number of families requesting distance learning for their student(s) and the increased difficulty in staffing our schools, the elementary schools will move to Distance Learning 2.0 beginning Tuesday, December 1. On Monday, November 30 there will be no school for elementary students. Elementary teachers will utilize this day as instructional planning time. Students in grades 6-12 will still have school on Monday, November 30. 

Additionally, we are sharing an anticipated return to potential in-person learning for all students grades K-12 on January 19, 2021. This date is forecasted based on the number of large family/friend gatherings occurring between November 25 and January 1. These gatherings are considered “superspreader events” by MDH where numerous households congregate. A return date of January 19, 2021 would be 18 days after New Years celebrations and decrease any potential COVID-19 exposure that could happen during these gatherings.

Please read this communication thoroughly as it contains important and detailed information regarding this transition. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly. We want to provide you with the most accurate information possible and utilizing our local Facebook forums for questions often leads to misinformation. Contact information for each building is below: 

Liberty Elementary: 763-262-8100

Independence Elementary STEM: 763-262-2537

Middle School: 763-262-2567

High School: 763-262-2547

Will school offices be open during distance learning? 

Yes, school offices will continue to be open during school hours. We encourage parents to make a virtual appointment if you wish to meet with school staff. Please remind your student that they need to bring home any necessary learning materials, iPads and chromebooks, chargers, hats, coats, gloves, or other items in their lockers before we transition to distance learning. Additionally, parents should contact the Health Office at their school to pick up any necessary medication. 

Is enrollment in Big Lake Online still an option? 

Families who are interested in enrolling in Big Lake Online may still do so. Please contact your building principals for assistance registering as soon as possible to help accommodate staffing needs. Students enrolling in Big Lake Online will need to commit through Trimester 2 and may return on March 16 if needed. More information regarding Big Lake Online can be found on our district website. Please review the information at the end of this letter with more information clarifying the difference between Big Lake Online and Distance Learning 2.0. 

How do I sign up for childcare services? 

Kids Club will continue to remain open to all families during Distance Learning 2.0. All families, including Tier 1 essential workers must register through Community Education. More information regarding Kids Club and registration can be found on the Community Education website or by emailing or calling 763-262-2523. 

Will meals be delivered to designated bus stops? 

Yes, meals will be delivered free of charge to designated bus stops and available for pick up at the Middle School. Please take time to complete this survey to help us set up bus stop locations. Further communication regarding ordering meals and bus stop locations will be shared next week. 

How can I help my child return to in-person learning? 

We are asking all members of our community to minimize the spread of illness by taking the following actions:

  • Protect yourself and others by wearing a face covering when it is hard to stay 6 feet away from people; washing your hands often with soap and water; covering your cough and sneeze; and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands. 
  • If you are sick, stay home from school, child care and other activities. 
  • Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home. Keep enough food, regular prescription drugs, and other necessities on hand in case you need to stay home and are not able to go out easily. 
  • Frequently clean all commonly touched surfaces (e.g., telephones, doorknobs, countertops, etc.).

Please note, that this information is all based on current guidance from the State of Minnesota and Governor Walz. As a school district, we have a responsibility to follow public health guidance from the State of Minnesota. Our goal has and always will be, to build meaningful connections with our students and provide exceptional learning opportunities for them. We share everyone’s frustrations and are working hard to ensure that your student still experiences a robust learning experience. We urge everyone to follow the health protocols to bring our students back to in-person learning as soon as possible. 



Tim Truebenbach


What is the difference between Distance Learning 2.0 and Big Lake Online? 

The primary differences between Distance Learning 2.0 and Big Lake Online are shown below. Additionally, we want parents to be informed that if you switch to Big Lake Online you are committing for a trimester (through March 16). Students transferring to Big Lake Online will receive a new teacher and need to learn the Edgenuity platform. Students who will be moving to Distance Learning 2.0 will remain with their current teacher and continue working with their same classmates. 



Distance Learning 2.0

Big Lake Online


Instruction delivered at home, using internet connected devices to access content as well as paper packets, materials, etc.

Instruction delivered at home, using internet connected devices to access content as well as paper packets, materials, etc.

Teacher’s Role

  • Deliver and curate all instruction.
  • Provide timely feedback and support.
  • Communicate with families regarding progress in class.
  • Provide SEL and virtual social opportunities.
  • Provide timely feedback and support.
  • Communicate with families regarding progress with the program.
  • Provide limited SEL and virtual social opportunities.

Curriculum and Content

Delivered directly from Big Lake Schools teachers via Seesaw and Otus.

Delivered from Edgenuity, accessed from Edgenuity platform.


From classroom teachers, submitted through Seesaw, Otus, and other platforms.

From Edgenuity, submitted solely through the Edgenuity platform.


Semi-flexible; work needs to be completed for each day, but nights and weekends can be used to catch up.

Flexible; families can access Edgenuity 24/7. Students have a recommended pacing calendar to finish all coursework, but can work ahead, or catch up on their own time. Students need to be active daily within Edgenuity for attendance purposes. 


Mostly independent work, with the support of parents/guardians at home.

Mostly independent work, with the support of parents/guardians at home.

Parent Involvement

Support with utilizing and accessing Seesaw and Otus. Help when students have questions.

Support with utilizing and accessing the Edgenuity platform, including technical help (logins, saving files and documents, uploading,etc.).