Distance Learning and COVID-19 updates

Planning for the 2020-21 school year

As we plan for the 2020-21 school year, we will rely on guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Department of Health and local public health experts to determine how to keep our students, their families and our staff healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On June 18, MDE and MDH provided schools with guidance for three scenarios to help us plan for the 2020-21 school year. 

  • Return all students to school buildings following the most current CDC and MDH guidelines.
  • Return students to school buildings implementing a hybrid model following the most current CDC and MDH guidelines.
  • No students return to school buildings. Implement a distance learning model.

Decisions around the fall may change as we learn more about which scenario will be in the best interest of public health, and specifically the health and safety of the Winona community.

On July 16, Winona Area Public Schools sent this survey to its families to help with planning sessions. 

In partnership with MDH and the Governor’s Office, MDE plans to announce a decision for which model of educational delivery will be in the best interest of the health and safety of our students, school staff and community for the 2020-21 school year by the week of July 27, 2020.

Winona Area Public Schools remains committed to our vision, mission, and core values, whether we are educating our students in our school buildings or through distance learning. We are also focused on providing equitable access to distance learning for every student that ensures the ability to learn and succeed. We remain dedicated to supporting every student and family during this stressful time.


One community of lifelong learners, engaged in creating our culture, where all are safe, valued and accountable to one another for success.


Expect excellence, grounded in compassion, to meet the needs of all learners.


  • Excellence: Be my best and expect the best of others
  • Kindness: Concern, compassion and advocacy for others
  • Respect: Acceptance of self and others as we work together
  • Honesty: Say and do the right thing, even if no one is watching
  • Responsibility: Do my part and be accountable for what I say and do


Summer School 2020

By Executive Order 20-57, Governor Walz directed the Commissioner of Education to allow for a safe and effective summer learning environment for Minnesota’s students. The order allows districts to prepare for the possibility of in-school learning during the summer months, subject to public health guidelines to keep our students, staff, and communities safe. The Minnesota Department of Education has determined that a school may safely open its building for a hybrid model of in-school learning and distance learning this summer for students eligible for summer learning or extended learning year services. During the Summer Learning Period, all public schools must provide access to student meals during the school day or to provide families information and resources to families that would allow them to access meals.

Winona Area Public Schools will be using a hybrid approach for summer learning programs. MDE describes a hybrid class as instruction “designed to integrate face-to-face and distance learning activities so that they reinforce, complement, and elaborate on one another, instead of treating the online component as an add-on or duplicate of what is taught in the classroom. During classroom instruction time, students can be engaged in authentic, collaborative experiences. The distance learning components can include multimedia-enhanced content, learning practice, and channels for ongoing discussion.” (Minnesota Summer Programming Guidance for Schools, MDE, May 20, 2020)

The hybrid classes are a work in progress as we shift to include face-to-face learning experiences with distance learning after two months of only distance learning. This shift will require patience, understanding, team work, and forgiveness for all involved. Winona Area Public Schools is committed to following the Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for summer programming and honoring parent choice of accessing the hybrid classes or the distance learning classes.

Parents, we understand that you may feel anxious about your role in your child’s summer learning experiences. Please know that your student’s teacher will continue to facilitate and guide your student’s education. We are asking that you remain a part of the team, serving as both a collaborator and cheerleader in your student’s learning.


Distance Learning: Spring 2020

Winona Area Public Schools was in distance learning from Tuesday, March 31 until Friday, June 5 — the last day of school for the 2019-2020 school year — due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers and students left for spring break on Friday, March 6 not knowing they would never return to their classrooms. 

On Friday, March 13, not long after Gov. Tim Walz originally announced that he would not order schools closed but asked for them to enforce social distancing guidelines, WAPS Superintendent Dr. Annette K. Freiheit canceled school for Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17 in order to give teachers, staff and administrators time to make changes to ensure social distancing and disinfecting strategies could be implemented. 

However, on Sunday, March 15, Walz announced that he was ordering schools closed from Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27 to give teachers and staff time to prepare in case there was a need to transition to distance learning. During this time, WAPS staff prepared various distance learning plans depending on the school-level, started an Emergency Child Care for essential workers and set up free meal delivery throughout the district for all students, not just those who attend WAPS. 

These are the plans we created together.


Distance Learning photos

Have a question? Ask it here

Herky Distance Learning

I want to ...