Although distance learning has brought about challenges for students and their families, it turns out there is an interest for that option to continue. 

Earlier this month, the Centennial School District sent out a nonbinding survey to families with children who are currently enrolled in grades K-7. The survey asked one question: “If offered, would you consider enrolling your child(ren) in distance learning (online learning) for the 2021-22 school year?”  

High school families were not included in this survey, as the district previously surveyed that group. There was not enough interest needed to launch an online program, however the high school will offer five hybrid classes in the fall, which will include: World Literature, Government, Health, Computer Science and German. 

“We took the opportunity to try to learn and ensure that as we make decisions for next year, there are opportunities to look at all those options for students and to meet their needs,” Superintendent Brian Dietz said. “Overall, the response was good and positive.”

Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Scott Johnson added, “We were blown away by the interest that was communicated to us through this nonbinding interest survey from our families.” 

A total 527 parents/guardians completed the survey. Twenty-one percent of the respondents indicated interest in an online option for their student(s) if the district were to offer the option next year. Specifically, 200 K-5 parents/guardians and 140 middle school parents/guardians were interested in continuing online learning. 

Johnson explained that the district is currently going through a vigorous certification process with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to become a certified online provider, which would allow the distance learning/online learning option to continue beyond the pandemic. 

“It has been a good process. It really forced us to get into what a program like this might look like for students,” Johnson said. “It’s been a three-month process. It has not yet been finalized, but we did get verbal assurance from MDE that it will be.” 

The district sent out official communication via email last week to families. Parents/guardians who wish to enroll their students in online learning — which will be called Centennial Online — will need to complete an application by May 6. By filling out the application, parents will commit their student(s) to online learning for the entire 2021-22 school year. 

At the middle school, students will receive instruction in all required subjects either via Google Meet or Asynchronously. Selected elective courses will be offered based on the grade level of the student enrolled in online — music (grade 6), physical education/health (grade 7) and visual arts (grade 8).

Students enrolled in online learning will still be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities along with the in-person learners. 

It’s important to note that the district has the authority to limit online enrollment if grade levels reach capacity, and to resume enrollment when space become available. Per state statute, online classrooms cannot exceed 40 students without written permission from the Commissioner of Education. If the district does not receive the required approval from MDE, Centennial Online will not be offered as an option. 

For the Centennial Online application, visit Families should reach out to their school directly with questions. 


Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or

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