Winona Area Public Schools to reopen under hybrid model

Winona Area Public Schools (WAP) choose hybrid model to start school year

WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) – The Winona Area Public Schools (WAPS) Board of Education on Wednesday night approved preliminary plans to welcome students back this fall under the Winhawk Learning Model No. 3. The start date for schools in the district is September 8.

The Winhawk Learning Model No. 3 is based on parameters developed by the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Education, released last week by Gov. Tim Walz as part of the Safe Learning Plan.

The reopening plan applies to ALL students in grades K-12, who will each be assigned to one of two groups.

Group A will attend in-person on Monday and Tuesday, while Group B will attend school Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a day of distance learning while school buildings undergo further cleaning and disinfecting. Students and staff will be also be required to wear masks and physical distancing will be strictly enforced.

Preschool programs are already functioning under a hybrid model, and there will be no changes to their schedule.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of welcoming our wonderful students back into our buildings this fall,” Superintendent Dr. Annette K. Freiheit said. “We know the uncertainty of the 2020-21 school year has weighed heavily on the minds of many families in our district, and we appreciate the patience, the support and the empathy of our families this summer and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A recent survey of  WAPS district families earlier this summer shows more than 70% indicated they would choose a learning model that offered at least some in-person schooling for their children while a little more than 20% indicated they would prefer to remain in distance learning. Nearly 80% of families said they were at least somewhat comfortable sending their kids back to school.

Families will have the option to choose distance learning for their children at any point during the school year for any reason. Free child care will be provided for the children of Tier 1 emergency workers on the distance learning days in the hybrid model.

If a family wants to opt-in for distance learning they will be asked to fill out a survey next week.

Although WAPS intends to begin the school year in a hybrid model, the plan is subject to change while COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the Winona community.

More details about the WAPS Safe Learning Plan will be announced in the next few weeks. Updates will be posted on the Fall 2020 Planning Updates page on