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Distance Learning / COVID-19 Information

This section is MSA's one-stop shop for all distance learning/COVID-19 information. The latest news and information will be posted here. Please check this page often for the latest information.

MSA Distance Learning Plan Executive Summary

Click Here to download the MSA Distance Learning Plan Executive Summary.

Latest Updates

April 17th End of Week 3 Update
Week 3 of our Distance Learning Plan is complete.  Well done MSA!
I would like to provide two bits of data that illustrate how well MSA is doing during distance learning.  Our average daily attendance rate is at 96% for the past week, which is higher than it was before our spring break began.  Student completion rate of assignments for most classes is over 90%.  These rates exceed the rates of other schools that have shared their distance learning information. 
To improve our progress rates, please consider the following information while we continue with our distance learning.
  1. After logging in at the beginning of the day, take attendance before doing any other school work.
  2. Communicate with your teacher as soon as possible when lingering questions arise. 
  3. Read the Announcements, which will begin next week.  These will be published Tuesday and Thursdays and will replace the end of week updates.
  4. Complete the following survey:
    1. Students:  Student Survey
    2. Parents:    Parent Survey
As we look forward to graduation, we are exploring many options to ensure that our seniors are honored.  Due to the fluid nature of government directives concerning social distancing, number of participants in a meeting, and movement, it is very difficult to determine what MSA’s graduation will look like.  Senior parents and students will be sent a survey by May 1st to gauge interest in different graduation options.
We need your help!  The end of this school year is a few weeks away.  MSA would like to offer students and staff masks to take home with them when they turn in their books and computers.  In order to offer these, we will need 600 masks by May 29th.  If you are able to provide masks to MSA, we would be happy to receive them!  Look for additional details in next week’s announcements. 
Congratulations on completing 3 weeks of distance learning!
Stay healthy and optimistic!  We will all make it through this together!
April 10th End of Week 2 Update
Congratulations on completing our second week of distance learning! 
It may be difficult to believe, but it has been over a month since students have been in class on the MSA campus.  We are working our way towards the end of the school year and learning many things inside and outside of class!  As we prepare for our third week of distance learning, I would like to bring your attention to several things that have changed or need additional clarification since our distance learning started.  My hope in doing so is that your increased awareness of these items will help our students to adjust to our new “normal”.
  • Students should expect to spend an average of 60 minutes per class, with up to 20 of these 60 minutes being instruction from their teacher.  Classes will continue to be held on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.  Friday will continue to be a day for students to connect with their teachers.
  • AP courses will require more time than regular classes.  AP teachers are working hard to help students make up for lost time, while still trying to prepare students for the upcoming tests.  They also recognize that students are adjusting to the additional stresses of the outside world.  Obviously, AP classes carry a greater workload and time commitment than regular classes, and these expectations are still true with distance learning.  Please communicate with your teacher if you encounter challenges as soon as possible.
    • AP exams are scheduled to occur between May 11th and May 22nd.  Tests are scheduled to be online and 45 minutes long.  Watch for more information from Mrs. Graveen.
  • The ACT test will be offered on October 6th, 2020 to next year’s seniors to make up for the test date that was cancelled this spring.
  • Attendance check-in needs to be sent to the student’s adviser by 1 pm daily, including Fridays.
  • Many activities have been cancelled or may be cancelled in the future to ensure the safety and health of our community.  Cancelled activities include the Carnival, Prom, and all MCA testing.  Students involved in other activities should contact their adviser or coach if they are unsure of the status of their activity.  Generally, a decision concerning whether an activity is cancelled will be made a month before the activity was scheduled to occur.
  • Lettering requirements for activities will be modified to reflect changes in the activity’s schedule.  Participants should contact their adviser to learn of the lettering modifications.
  • For a message from many of the staff members, click on the following link.
  • The MSA Parent Team Organization (PTO), of which every MSA parent or guardian is a member, will be holding its annual election on Monday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m.  All positions for 2020/2021 are open.
    • If you are interested in a position, please contact Diane Erickson at by Monday, April 13th
Thank you for your patience, assistance, and cooperation while we navigate this time of distance learning.  Together we will make it through this difficult time and emerge a much stronger and vibrant community!
Have a wonderful weekend and upcoming week!
John Gawarecki
MSA Director
April 3rd Week One Update
Thank you for making MSA’s first week of distance learning as successful as possible!  Without your support, dedication, and effort, this week’s learning would not have been as successful as it was.
Enjoy a weekend away from the screen!  There may not be enough snow to make one last snow person, but spend some time outside this weekend anyway.
John Gawarecki
MSA Director
Distance Learning Plan Executive Summary

Dear MSA Community,

The Math and Science Academy is implementing distance learning from March 30th to May 4th in compliance with an executive order from Governor Walz. Our distance learning plan supports the learning of all students at MSA with a goal to provide meaningful education while maintaining personalized connections. While we recognize that learning at home and online provides a different educational experience than what we are accustomed to, it also offers a unique opportunity to discover many things about ourselves that we wouldn’t otherwise discover.

We acknowledge that our staff, students, and families may be facing unprecedented challenges during our distance learning period. We all need to be patient, supportive, understanding, and optimistic. Flexibility, adaptability, and communication are key skills that we will rely on to complete distance learning.

Please be patient during the first few weeks of MSA’s distance learning experience. We realize that there are still questions to be answered and issues to be addressed. Our main goal is to get our students back in the “classroom,” provide an engaging learning experience, and fulfill our role as one of the hubs of our community.

Go Dragons!

John Gawarecki 
Executive Director 
Math and Science Academy 

Lisa Anderson
Chair, Board of Directors
Math and Science Academy

March 27th Update From Mr. Gawarecki

Good Evening!

It has been a very busy and active week!  Over the past week, all MSA staff and many BOD members and parents have met via video conferencing to create the Distance Learning Plan for MSA.  While there have been daily changes from the Minnesota Department of Education illustrating how fluid this process is, we have a plan which is in the editing stage.  Before an executive summary is released on Sunday for viewing, there are a number of items you should be aware of.

Quote of the Day:

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.” – Brian Tracy

 Tips/suggestions for Preparing to Learn at Home:

1) If you cannot access Skyward, please contact Justin Gehring ( or 651-578-7507 extension 3504).

2) Two trainings to visit before Monday include:

  1. Zoom -
  2. Google Classroom -

3) General information is provided via the Distance Learning Website ( Additional information and training will also be provided by teachers when appropriate for their classes.

4) If you have not already done so, start becoming familiar with:

  • accessing your MSA email and the MSA web portal.
  • accessing the webpages your student’s teachers provide.
  • how to launch into a Zoom meeting (see link above).
  • how to get and post assignments through Google classroom (see link above).

Plan Updates:

Daily schedule - Please check Skyward for your daily schedule.  Please note that on Friday, teachers will have 2 hours of office hours.  A list of teachers’ office hours will be available on Sunday.

Instructional time - No more than 20 minutes per class with no more than 60 minutes to complete the tasks and homework.

Attendance - Advisory teachers will take daily attendance.  Students need to check in with their advisor by 1:00 pm each day, Monday through Friday.

Student belongings at MSA - Please call the main MSA phone line (651-578-7507) if you need to pick up materials.  Entrance into the school building is by appointment only.

Student Behavior During Distance Learning - Behavior and clothing expectations while conducting online learning and/or communicating with staff are still in effect.

We will continue our Dragon Fire during distance learning.


  • Stay on task when using technology.
  • Minimize distractions in your workspace.


  • Turn in your own work.
  • Use only resources allowed for assessments.
  • Always cite sources.


  • Take turns commenting during group video chats.
  • Make respectful comments and facial expressions when online.


  • Complete and turn in assignments on time.
  • Always persevere and try your best.
  • Help others who may need assistance.

Activities at MSA

• All participation in MSHSL spring activities at all member schools is suspended.

No decisions regarding the cancellation of spring activities have been made at this time.

• Participation includes, but is not limited to, competitions, training, practices, scrimmages, and contests.  The suspension of participation includes fine arts activities and athletics and the following events remain suspended indefinitely:

• Speech Section and State Tournaments                              • Music Contests

• Visual Arts Competitions and State Festival                       • MSHSL State Robotics Tournament

• MSHSL Clay Target State Tournament

AP/ACT/MCA Testing

  • MCAs at MSA will not occur this year.
  • ACT exams will not occur at MSA this year.   Please continue to monitor this page and your email for additional updates as they may arise. For more information regarding national ACT test dates, please click here.
  • Traditional face-to-face AP exam administrations will not take place.
  • For each AP subject, there will be 2 different testing dates.
  • The full exam schedule, specific free-response question types that will be on each AP Exam, and additional testing details will be available by April 3rd.
  • For the 2019–20 exam administration only, students can take a 45-minute online exam at home.
  • To be fair to all students, some of whom have lost more instructional time than others, the exam will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students have already covered in class by early March.
  • Students will be able to take these streamlined exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. Taking a photo of handwritten work will also be an option.
  • Please continue to monitor the Testing Information and Updates page on our website and your email for additional updates as they arise.

IEP/504 Plans

  • Paraprofessionals will host live/synchronous classroom sessions for students with IEPs using  this schedule.
  • Students will receive special education IEP service minutes.
  • Individualized Google Classrooms for each student on an IEP have been created. Each student's teachers, EAs and related service providers who will be working with them are in this group.

Featured Resource: (School information)

MSA Distance Learning/ COVID-19 Information

Has information on the latest updates, preparing for distance learning, FAQs, school counseling support, testing information and updates, and COVID-19 health resources.

Have a great weekend and we’ll see you Monday, albeit virtually!

March 25th Update From Minnesota Governor Walz

Gov. Walz's Emergency Executive Order 20-20, issued on Mar. 25, extends Distance Learning in schools until May 4.  To see the full executive order, click here.  

March 23rd Update From Mr. Gawarecki

Good Evening!

I hope your weekend and Monday were restful and that you had time to enjoy your family!  MSA’s staff has been hard at work making progress towards meeting our goal of going live with our Distance Learning Plan.  Additional progress will be made as the week unfolds.

Quote of the Day:

“What is success?  I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.”  - Margaret Thatcher

Initial Planning/Updates:

Daily schedule – Plan on a four-day weekly schedule with the same classes each Monday and Wednesday and other classes on Tuesday and Thursday.  Every Friday will be 2 hours of office hours.

Instructional time – No more than 20 minutes per class meeting with no more than 60 minutes to complete the class meeting tasks and homework.

Attendance – Advisory teachers will take daily attendance with students checking in by 1:00 pm.  Teachers update Skyward before they are done working for the day.  Students checking in will be counted as present for the day.

Student belongings at MSA – Please call the main MSA phone line (651-578-7507) if you need to pick up student belongings.  Entrance into the school building is by appointment only.

Tips/suggestions for Learning at Home:

Spend an hour in your learning area. 

If you cannot access Skyward, please contact Justin Gehring ( or 651-578-7507 extension 3504).

Discuss when your student will contact their Advisory teacher each day. 

Contact the Advisory teacher via email.

Featured Resources:  (Learning Focus)

Khan Academy

Good for math and computing for all ages.  This uses the traditional U.S. grade system, and it's mostly common material.


Please send questions to me as they arise.  In future emails, there will be a link to questions with answers for you. 

Click here for previous emails and communications.

Stay healthy!

March 20th Update From Mr. Gawarecki

Good Evening!

What a difference a week can make! Our world has forever changed in the last seven days and will continue to change in the future. I hope this message finds you and your family in good health and spirits.

Starting today, I will be sending updates to all parents and students on Monday and Friday evenings. Monday’s email will focus on informing you about what will be happening the upcoming week. Friday’s email will focus on the progress that we made. In respect of your time, I will keep the rest of this communication to you as pointed as possible.

Quote of the day:
“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” - John D. Rockefeller

All MSA staff have been spending numerous hours daily working on a comprehensive Distance Learning Plan that will be equitable for our students when be begin our distance learning on March 30th. Details regarding this plan will be released next week. Distance learning will look much different than the in-person learning our students have experienced.

The Communications Committee has been working on a webpage that will be put on the MSA website and active on Monday afternoon. The webpage will be a portal of information regarding the COVID-19 virus and distance learning information.

The Minnesota Department of Education is requesting a waiver from the U. S. Department of Education to exempt all schools from the MCA testing. Look for more information on this next week.

Tips/suggestions for learning at home:
Retrieve any belongings from school that will be needed by calling the school (651-578-7507) for an appointment. Belongings to pick up could include: medications, school issued resources, and/or personal belongings.

Set up a learning area that includes online access. If you cannot access Skyward, please contact Justin Gehring ( or 651-578-7507 extension 3504).

Read a book or two for fun next week.
Write a letter/email to family members not in regular contact with you.
Go for a talk and walk with your family.

Featured Resources (Food Resource Focus)

Please send questions to Email Me as they arise. In future emails, there will be a link to questions with answers for you.

In future emails, there will also be a link to the topics in previous emails and communications.

March 15th Update From Mr. Gawarecki

Good Evening!

I hope that this information finds you and your family safe and healthy.

With any fluid situation, there will be times when confusion and or frustration with change can be felt.  It is how we react during these times that can define us and who we will become.  If you have questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact me.

With the Governor’s announcement today that all school activities will be closed effective Wednesday, March 18th, through Friday, March 27th, and that the announcement will be re-evaluated, I would like to provide you some additional information as it pertains to our students for Monday and Tuesday as well as information concerning when buildings at MSA may be open for pickup of student resources.

As stated in an earlier email by Mr. Johnston, MSA will be open tomorrow, Monday, March 16th, during the following times for parents and/or students to pick up their resources (laptop/Chromebook, textbooks, notebooks, other student materials).

Monday, March 16th

7-8 am – Last names beginning A-D

8-9 am – Last names beginning E-G

9-10 am – Last names beginning H-L

10-11 am – Last names beginning M-O

11-12 pm – Last names beginning P-R

12-1 pm – Last names beginning S-V

1-2 pm – Last names beginning W-Z

2-3 pm – Open, but please use only if absolutely necessary


Tuesday, March 17th

8-9 am – Open, but please only use if absolutely necessary


Should you need to pick up materials, please come prepared to enter the building, pick up the items you need, and then leave the campus.  By keeping your visit to MSA as brief as possible, we hope to minimize the amount of exposure by anyone.  While MSA staff may be on campus, they will not be available for social interactions.


On Tuesday, MSA will be conducting e-learning classes so that students may receive some direction from their classroom teachers and administration concerning the virus.  During the day, students should receive information on what areas they should review to stay as current as possible with the topics discussed prior to spring break.  This should allow the class to proceed with their academic endeavors when regular school classes resume.

Because Tuesday will count as a school day, parents are reminded to call the attendance line or email the school if their student will not be attending the e-learning classes.

Starting on Wednesday, MSA (and all public schools in Minnesota) will be closed through March 27th.  There will NOT be an e-learning days after Tuesday.

All before school and after school activities (including all clubs and field trips) are cancelled with the hope of rescheduling as many events as possible once regular school classes resume.  This includes the Sound of Hope Concert, Robotics, all MSHSL athletics, Pi Day (the PTO is looking at rescheduling this for 4.13, April 13th) if school is in session.

Despite the potential for disruption, this virus is no match for the collective capabilities of the MSA community.  This virus lacks the creativity, passion, and a tenacious desire to overcome obstacles; all of which are characteristics emblematic the MSA community.

Thank you for your continued vigilance, attention and flexibility on this ever changing situation.

Stay Healthy!


John Gawarecki

MSA Director

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Math and Science Academy
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