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Updates from Superintendent Woelber - 7/19/20

JULY 19, 2020

Greetings from the school and as your School Superintendent I just wanted to share a few thoughts from the week and I will continue to share information with you as it becomes available. As a reminder, I am a bit of an oddity because I serve 3 districts which doesn’t necessarily mean I work with thousands of students but it does mean I have the honor of working with 3 different school boards and many different factions of parents with many different community concerns, traditions and beliefs. Unfortunately I and my districts have little to no chance of making everyone happy as we look to the new school year. Our country is in a tough spot with everyone picking sides on politics, picking the doctor(s) that agree with their side on the corona virus and all the school questions of masks, in person instruction etc.
● Parents and students we hear you! You want to be in the buildings and you want to learn in person and now have a better appreciation for one another, a better appreciation for your teachers and a better appreciation for the many activities outside of the school day. The many districts that did the surveys found over 90% of students and staff wanted to be back.
● It’s no secret that the “bite your nails” big day of the Dept of Education “telling us what to do” is July 27th which has a slim chance of happening on that day or earlier and most likely will be Friday July 31st if the tradition of MN bureaucracy holds true. I hope that there will be a lot of black and white guidelines for districts and county health officials to decide on their own. I would assume that the guidelines will be out to everyone and I will share whatever information comes my way immediately with our board, administration and staff to begin to review and develop talking points.
● Each district will have a committee of board members, administrators, school nurse, teachers, food service and buildings / grounds. The committees will have their first meeting to iron out details Monday-Wednesday August 3-5.
● As stated earlier we are very lucky to have the ability to “space” our kids out 6 ft. apart. Unless the State pulls the “distance learning card” for a week or two, we feel very good about having all the kids in the buildings all year. 15 years ago we had 15-25 more students per grade and that would not have been possible. If we have to go the “middle scenario” of hybrid learning we will then need to focus on major changes to our busing and food service
● Regarding food service, all the students will still get breakfast and lunch. We will need to iron out the details about where they eat, when they eat and what they eat.
● Regarding transportation, we are waiting for guidelines on the difference between buses being 50% full which is easier for our small schools. BUT if they are telling me that families of students have to be 6ft apart that could be trickier and limit us to 10-12 kids per bus. Once we know this we will be asking what families are ok transporting their kids to and from school vs. riding the bus.
● We will iron out guidelines with our health officials on procedures for students and/or staff with a positive test. We will have hand sanitizer in each classroom, plenty of cleaning supplies around and masks available to those that may not feel comfortable without one.
● It all boils down to YOUR / OUR DISTRICT trying to do it’s best to balance what the State tells us to do, what parents want us to do, what our staff feels is best to do and what our kids want for themselves. It saddens me to hear of families that will “pull their kids” if the school doesn’t do what they believe is right. As I said earlier, we have two distinct sides here and the school becomes the one thing the State can actually control with funding and the school also becomes the one place a family can make their own “statement” about how they feel about the state of affairs. We are watching before our eyes the dreams of many small town businesses / restaurants go up in smoke. Losing 10-20 students in any of my schools or any small school for that matter is the beginning of the end for what we know as normal.
● With that said, we will also have a plan for students that cannot be in school. We will get a notification out in the next couple of weeks to families in order to see what students cannot attend in person. Going outside the district for online classes takes money away from the district. Getting instruction online through the school keeps tax dollars and student opportunities local. Over my 26 years in administration I have seen kids come from online options and from other districts. I have also seen students go and with no judgement, I wish them well when they go and welcome them with open arms when they come back.
● It comes down to parents doing what’s best in their hearts and the school will support those decisions. The school will do the best we can to make it all work and give the kids and school employees the best learning experience possible. For the sake of our kids we must stay positive and keep the faith! Thanks

Loy Woelber