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Survey: Minnesota Teachers Worried About Going Back To Class & The Continuation Of Distance Learning

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- While it remains unclear what kind of classroom Minnesota students will go back to in the fall, teachers are concerned about the continuation of distance learning as well as the safety of returning to classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

These conflicting concerns were documented in a recent survey conducted by the University of Minnesota involving more than 13,000 K-12 teachers, administrators and officials from 409 school districts and charter schools.

"Overall, what we found is that educators in our state are worried, yet optimistic about what fall will look like for them and their students," said professor Katie Pekel, of the U of M's College of Education and Human Development and the lead researcher on the survey. "They know the benefits of in-person learning and challenges that need to be addressed with distance learning, but they want everyone — including their students and their families — to be safe from the virus."

RELATED: What Are Schools Doing To Plan For Fall Classes?

According to the survey results, the problems teachers expressed with distance learning include engaging students online, assessing their work, and navigating the various distance learning platforms, such as Schoology and Zoom. Inequality in families' access to technology was also a noted concern.

Nearly all surveyed educators expressed at least some level of worry that the pandemic was interfering with their ability to teach, Pakel said. She added that if distance learning is to continue in the fall, more resources may be needed to better connect students and teachers.

Currently, Minnesota officials are planning for three scenarios: in-class learning, hybrid learning with strict guidelines, and distance learning only. Schools are planning for all three scenarios. A decision on how Minnesota will move forward is expected next week.

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