In its work session Monday, Aug. 3, the Pequot Lakes School Board heard from ICS Consulting regarding the proposed recreational field project south of town. The district would possibly partner with the city of Pequot Lakes on this venture.

The cost of the project, depending on options presented, could range from $1 million to $6 million. Board members had concerns about adding substantial costs for taxpayers given the status of the economy, as well as whether the school district or the city would be responsible for maintaining the fields.

Board Chair Kim Bolz-Andolshek suggested the district reach out to the community to see how people feel about taking on the project.

“If the board moves forward with this, what are the parameters that we as a team agree or disagree on?” Bolz-Andolshek said. “I think in order to go to the city, we have to have a majority vote on where we are and what we are going to do.”

The board will further address the issue in its regular meeting.

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Following the ballfields discussion, Superintendent Chris Lindholm worked to answer board members’ questions regarding the state’s announcement that school districts can decide how to open to students Tuesday, Sept. 8, based on recent COVID-19 cases within the county.

One board member asked what would happen if the district ignored the state’s guidelines.

“If we are traced back to having an outbreak from here - and we did not follow MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) guidelines - we would be wide open and exposed to liabilities," Lindholm said.

Lindholm also informed the board that any staff members ignoring guidelines, such as mask mandates, could face disciplinary measures.

The superintendent encouraged parents to have their children get used to the feeling of wearing a mask for an extended period of time, as that will be a requirement for in-person learning.

Another discussion item brought up involved a hybrid-model idea that Lindholm called a “flex Friday.” If the district was operating in a hybrid learning model, half the students would report in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays, the other half on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and then the groups would alternate in-person learning on Fridays, or possibly use those Fridays for the elective classes that are difficult to teach via distance learning, such as a science lab.

“It's those multi-grade lecture sections that are the hardest for high school schedulers to make work,” Lindholm said. “No decisions or recommendations have been made. I just wanted you (the board) to not be shocked by that idea.”

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.