Patriot Perspective: Kicking Off 2020-21

Face coverings of many shapes and sizes were on display as students filed into Eagle View Elementary School Tuesday, Sept. 8. Dan Determan / Echo Journal

The 2020-21 school year has officially begun in Pequot Lakes Public Schools with k-6 students attending in person everyday and students in grades 7-12 attending in person two days each week and distance learning the other three days. The first few days of school have provided example after example of our Patriot students and families demonstrating wonderful grace, patience, and resilience! Our staff has worked incredibly hard over the summer to prepare for this fall so when the hallways lit up with student laughter, smiles, and comments about how great it was to be back, the sense of joy and relief among our Patriot staff was clearly visible - even through the masks! It is truly a joy to welcome students back into our schools after six long months without them. We’ve missed them a great deal.

Families with school-aged children are strongly encouraged to develop plans now for the possibility that we will need to shift to distance learning in the near future. The number of new cases in Crow Wing County has trended down recently, allowing our schools to move forward with some in-person learning, but that may change as we implement in-person learning and begin closing up windows and doors due to cooler weather. Even more likely to push us into distance learning is the possibility of having too many staff fall ill or being directed to self-quarantine. Our plans call for teachers that must quarantine but who are healthy enough to teach to do so from home, but this accommodation doesn’t work for staff that drive a bus, prepare meals, or work in our health offices. It also doesn’t work if we don’t have enough staff to supervise onsite. Eventually we may need to shift to distance learning for at least 14 days if too many students or staff test positive for COVID so everyone can self-quarantine and the buildings can be cleaned deeply. Our district began the 2020-21 school year with several staff members and district families in a 14-day quarantine period due to recent exposure to a confirmed COVID case, and we predict that pattern will continue on throughout the year. The unknown is which direction the numbers will trend.

An exciting 2020-21 project for Pequot Lakes Public Schools is the planned remodel of the former Echo building. The school board recently approved remodeling the building to be a STEM Campus, housing the Robotics, Engineering, and Construction programs, and the Pequot Lakes High School Construction Academy students will do a fair amount of the remodeling themselves! The district is grateful for the local support from ICS and Nor-Son who will work with our students to make the project a success. May we all work together to make the 2020-21 school year a great one! Go Patriots!

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