Backus: Small classes favor full opening for Foothills Christian Academy

Foothills Christian Academy in Backus plans a full reopening in September for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, said Principal Blair Ecker. Given the smaller class sizes, the school may have advantages when it comes to social distancing.

Some guidelines that are directing local school districts' actions are not applicable to Foothills Christian Academy.

“A lot of the government's orders don't apply to private schools,” Ecker said. “We follow some of the rulings and some we don't. Some of it is a mandate and we are still under that. We're sifting through that and seeing what affects us and what doesn't. It's nice to have a little more freedom to make decisions based on our locale rather than falling under larger blanket orders.”

Just like other schools in the area, plans at Foothills Christian Academy can change slightly. Even now, classes may have slight modifications for added safety.

“Some things are going to change,” Ecker said. “The way we run the school we were socially distanced. We had small classes. There's going to be some additional hoops we're going to jump through, but it's not going to change things very much.”


Perhaps the largest change is that high school students will not take Pine River-Backus school buses to school in Backus anymore, per Minnesota Department of Education guidelines.

“We're adapting as curveballs come. We just plan to do that. If there's a COVID-19 outbreak in Backus, we're fluid enough to adapt with that,” Ecker said.

The school is also taking additional security precautions to limit entrants to the building. Those who wish to visit the school now must schedule an appointment. The change has both security and sanitation purposes.

The school is also going to assist families with home-school options.

“We are also starting at being a home-school co-op umbrella this year,” said Ecker. “We've been contacted by so many parents with the desire to work for the first time home schooling that we're going to offer curriculum to that group.”

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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