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Shift to Distance Learning
Important Messages

  • Orono Schools has made the difficult decision to move all students and programs to distance learning, PreK through grade 12. This decision was not made lightly and like all decisions, prioritized the health and safety of our students and staff. The decision was made in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and is also in compliance with the state’s Safe Learning Plan. As you know, the district has been continually monitoring and sharing case data in our county, region and our school buildings through the COVID-19 dashboard. Cases and quarantine protocols are also making it increasingly difficult for Orono Schools to staff hybrid classrooms with the proper student-to-space ratios and social distancing. Many districts in our area, and throughout the state, are announcing similar learning model changes. For more information on the decision process, please see the section below, Why Distance Learning Now?
  • Our goal has always been to safely bring hybrid students to campus as often, and for as long as we were able. We have also been planning for this possible scenario. We are ready to quickly make the transition and provide an outstanding academic experience that supports the needs of all Orono students.
  • Communication will be sent from the district office, building principals, and later from your child’s teachers. Thank you for your patience.
  • We cannot predict a reopening date at this time. That will depend on the status of COVID-19 in our county, region and learning community and with further guidance from MDH. We are committed to returning students to campus as soon as possible.

Orono Middle School and Orono High School will move to distance learning on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. Orono Schumann Elementary, Orono Intermediate School and Discovery Center Preschool classes will move to distance learning on Tuesday, December 1, 2020. In both transitions, there will be a planning/transition day one day prior to the commencement of distance learning.  We are carefully monitoring rapidly changing health data, which could require an accelerated timeline for shifting to distance learning for our youngest learners. Families should be prepared for an earlier transition to distance learning, if needed.


This communication provides broad information for families and staff. Please look for additional details from building principals and other staff members in the coming days. We appreciate your patience.


Nov. 13 All students maintain current schedule
Nov. 16 All students maintain current schedule
Nov. 17 Grades K-5: Maintain current schedule*
No school grades 6-12 to allow all teachers time to pivot to the full-time distance learning model
Nov. 18-23 Grades PreK-5: Maintain current schedule*
Grades 6-12: All students in distance learning
Nov. 24 No school grades PreK-12: Parent-Teacher Conferences
Nov. 25-27 Thanksgiving holidays
Nov. 30 No school grades PreK-5 to allow all teachers time to plan and pivot to the full-time distance learning model
Grades 6-12: All students in distance learning
Next Child Nutrition Meal pick-up at OHS: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Dec. 1 Grades PreK-12: All students in distance learning until further notice
Dec. 23-31 No school PreK-12: Winter break

*Dates subject to a more accelerated timeline, if required, for grades PreK-5

Distance Learning Schedule Monday-Friday

Students will be engaged in learning Monday-Friday each week, unless designated as a no school day by the district. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Students will follow a daily schedule. A/B days will no longer apply at OMS and OHS. Students at Orono Middle School will continue with their block schedule for the remainder of the school year. 
  • Instruction will be delivered through a combination of live sessions and materials delivered through Seesaw and Schoology. Elementary students can expect a minimum of three live instructional sessions each day. 
  • NEW! Wednesday schedule for all students: In compliance with the governor’s Emergency Executive Order 20-94, schools are required to provide additional teacher preparation time for planning and teamwork.  Dedicated time for targeted student support is also needed to meet individual needs during distance learning. Wednesdays will be dedicated to these ends. The morning will be reserved for teacher preparation and the afternoon will be reserved for targeted student support.  All Orono students will be engaged in asynchronous learning on Wednesdays. Look for more information from building principals and/or teachers as we get underway.


Students ages 12 and under may be able to attend childcare if parents/guardians are Tier 1 workers. Click here for a list of roles classified as Tier 1. 

Community Education will review the needs for Spartan Kids childcare based on survey responses and then contact families as soon as possible.

Child Nutrition Services

As families move into distance learning we understand that also means more meals to prepare at home. We are here to help you. 

Distance Learning meals are currently FREE to all kids 18 years old and younger. That includes all toddlers and students that do not currently attend Orono Schools. Your participation in this program helps support Orono Child Nutrition. 

Our current pick up hours are Monday and Wednesday from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Orono High School north parking lot. Sign-ups are only required for special dietary needs.

Upcoming meal pick-up days:

  • November 18
  • November 20 & 23 (Thanksgiving Meal pick up)
  • November 30
  • December 1

Technology Support

COVID-19 Health and Safety Resources

Helpful resources for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our community

Mental Health Support

Please be sure to access mental health support resources through your child’s school counselor and other personnel. They are your one-stop shop when seeking educational/mental health support for your children.

You can also contact Julie Jurek, Social Worker at or telephone 952-449-8332 or Jane Leeper, Social Worker at or telephone 952-449-8466.

Mental health resources:

Why Distance Learning Now?

The decision to shift to distance learning was difficult, yet critical to protecting the health and safety of our students and staff.

As you are aware, Orono Schools has been working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to manage COVID-19 cases and exposure affecting students and staff. Our learning models are based on three important metrics reflecting:

  1. case rates in Hennepin County
  2. case rates in the western region of Hennepin County and
  3. case rates and resulting quarantine requirements that affect students and staff in our buildings

Cases and quarantine protocols are also making it increasingly difficult for Orono Schools to staff hybrid classrooms with the proper student-to-space ratios and social distancing.

A return to hybrid or in-person learning will depend on these key factors and consultation with MDH and other experts. 

COVID-19 Dashboard

The Orono Schools COVID-19 Dashboard provides county, region and school case data. It is updated every Friday. 

Per the state’s Safe Learning Plan, case data places grades PreK-12 in full-time distance learning:

Minnesota Learning Model Matrix