Sartell-St. Stephen school board readies distance learning plans

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by Mike Knaak

In what will become the standard at least for the near future, the Sartell-St. Stephen school board conducted its meeting via video conference March 23 and discussed the district’s coronavirus plans.

School board Chair Jeremy Snoberger, Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert and Business Services Specialist Josh Bentley gathered in the board room at the District Service Center and connected via videoconference with the rest of the board and administrators.

When spring break ends Monday, March 30, the district’s students and teachers will continue the school year using distance learning.

Schwiebert updated the board on the plan and actions taken during the past week.

Kindergarten through second graders will use study packets sent to their homes. Older students will use their district-supplied iPads and MacBooks.

Families with students in PreK through fourth grade will be able to pick up instructional materials from 3 – 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 26. Early childhood families and Oak Ridge Elementary School families pick up at Oak Ridge.  Pine Meadow Elementary School families pick up at the Pine Meadow bus area (not the front entrance).

Families who are unable to pick up materials on March 26 will have materials delivered via school bus beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, March 30. School buses will make stops that follow students’ morning bus routes. When the bus arrives, families/students/parents should walk to the bus door to receive the student’s work packet. Practice social distancing by remaining at least 6 feet apart and do not congregate in crowds.

“All staff did a wonderful job last week getting a distance learning package put together,” Schwiebert said.

As of March 23, the district was waiting for word from Gov. Tim Walz directing districts to start distance learning on March 30, but school officials expect that directive to come.

“We are waiting for the governor,” Schwiebert said. “We’re prepared for distance learning if the governor tells us. If we have a stay at home order, we will have distance learning.”

Starting March 30, the district plans drive-thru service for breakfast and lunch. Delivery of meals to families who indicated the need on the Skyward survey also begins on March 30. Meals are provided at no cost to students, regardless of financial circumstances.

In case a teacher gets sick, the administrators have three substitutes at each building ready to step in.

Some district officers are working at home now and those who are in the office are practicing social distancing.

Even if there’s a stay at home order, administrators believe the remodeling work will go forward and that the building will be ready for middle school students in the fall. Schwiebert said that when the skylight work is done this week, all that remains is carpeting and cleaning.

The board approved action that conforms with state law to conduct meetings via teleconference. The first upcoming meeting is a work session at 6:30 p.m. on April 1. The board moved the April 20 meeting scheduled for the St. Stephen City Hall to the District Service Center and that will also be conducted via teleconference.

School board members expressed their thanks to the staff and community for support dealing with the coronavirus.

“It’s been heartwarming to see the community to come together, even though we are farther away,” board member Jason Nies said. “We are appreciative of what you’ve been able to do.”





Author: Ellarry Prentice

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