The Lanesboro School Board met for a special meeting on July 31 to discuss the 2020-2021 school year following Governor Walz’s announcement the day before, which allows each school district in Minnesota to choose their learning plan. The three learning options are distance learning, in-person learning, or a hybrid of the two, and schools need to have a plan in place to allow for a smooth transition between the three models. Buildings need to stay at or below 50% occupancy. Lanesboro is planning to conduct school via the in-person/hybrid model. Thanks to technology and the space available at the school, both models are able to operate with the same plan. Virtual learning will also be offered as an alternative option for any family that prefers it.
Feedback from a parent survey that was sent out in May was utilized to formulate a distance learning plan in case the school needs to move to that model again if COVID-19 rates in Fillmore County increase. “We need to make a plan that’s seamless between being in the building and distance learning,” Superintendent Matt Schultz said. Classes will be recorded and posted to a Google classroom for students who choose distance learning, and the Seesaw app will be used for K-2 students. Doing so from the beginning of the school year will help to make it a routine so that changing to distance learning for all students will not be a big adjustment if it’s necessary. Schultz noted that the one to one technology initiative needs to be extended to kindergarten so that all students have access to a device that can be used at home if needed. Board member Steve Snyder asked if the majority of students have internet access and was assured that they do.
Per the Minnesota mask mandate, K-12 students will be required to wear a mask at school. The state will be distributing three disposable masks per student and a face shield for each teacher and paraprofessional. The school has ordered 8,000 disposable masks and 500 cloth masks. Brooke Pfeffer will also be donating one cloth mask for each student and teacher. Families will be asked to do a health check for their children before they leave for school each morning. “I want parents to know that we’re going to do things to keep their kids safe,” Schultz said.
Each grade will be split into two groups, A and B, and the groups will alternate participating in in-person or live-feed classes to keep them seperate. Elementary grades will be assigned one teacher and one paraprofessional to allow for the two groups. The high school will move to a four-period day to reduce movement among the students. The school also plans to utilize outdoor space as long as possible. “If we can be outside, we should be outside doing it,” Schultz said. The Lanesboro Park Board has approved using the picnic shelters and space at the park if necessary.
One teacher will be designated as the distance learning teacher for students who choose to start the school year that way. “Is there’s a point where it’s too much for one teacher?” board member Christine Troendle asked, noting that the number of students participating in distance learning may increase as the year goes on. Superintendent Schultz assured her that the situation would be assessed and addressed as needed.
Transportation will be addressed once the school knows how many students will be driven to school by their parents and how many will need to ride the bus.
“I want to have kids in the building as long as possible and developing a plan that keeps staff safe and keeps students safe, that makes that plan possible,” Superintendent Schultz said. “Making sure people stay home when they are sick is going to be very important this year.” The COVID-19 School Preparedness plan was approved by the board.
The revised 2020-21 school calendar was reviewed and approved with June 6 as the graduation date.
The board approved a motion giving each daycare employee who worked during the emergency shutdown between the dates of March 15 and March 31 an additional $50 for each of those days.
The next regular Lanesboro School Board Meeting will be August 20 at 7 pm.