Pequot Lakes School: District to open with hybrid model
Pequot Lakes grades K-6 will attend school in-person every day; grades 7-12 will follow a staggered in-person plan.
The Pequot Lakes School District will open to all students when the school year begins - just not all at the same time.
The Pequot Lakes School Board voted unanimously Monday, Aug. 17, to approve opening in a “hybrid” learning model - one that sees in-person learning every day for grades K-6 and a staggered in-person plan for grades 7-12. On days when students in the higher grades are not at school in-person, they will be distance learning.
The students in the higher grades will attend in-person two days per week. Seventh- and eighth-graders will be divided into two randomly sorted groups - one group will be in-person on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
At the high school level, freshman and juniors will be onsite on Mondays and Tuesdays while sophomores and seniors will be onsite on Wednesdays and Thursdays. “Flex Fridays” will be implemented at the secondary level, allowing some students to attend in-person for electives, interventions and enrichment activities. Students and staff will complete a health screening prior to onsite instruction.
Special education, intervention and enrichment services will be made available onsite every day for students as needed.
Those learning in person will be spaced out as much as possible.
“By keeping groups small enough and spaced out, we can pull this off,” Superintendent Chris Lindholm said. “It takes a lot of work from Melissa (Hesch, elementary principal) and her team and Mike (O’Neil, middle school principal) and his team to make that happen at our sites.”
All in-person school days will be shortened to allow teachers to conduct distance learning interactions and prepare for the next day of school, as well as allow staff to thoroughly clean the buildings. The school day at Eagle View Elementary School will end at 2:05 p.m., while the middle- and high-school students will be let out at 1:50 p.m.
Students and staff are encouraged to bring a water bottle, as drinking fountains will be limited to filling bottles. Hand-sanitizing stations have been added throughout the buildings and surface disinfectant will be in every classroom.
With regard to transportation, families are “strongly encouraged” to drive their kids to school to reduce the number of students on buses. Regular bus routes will run and will pick up students scheduled for the given day with buses filling to no more than 50% capacity. Family members may sit together, but otherwise students should distance as much as possible. Face masks will be required on buses.
Meals will be served in school, with students either spread out to more spaces during lunchtime or remaining within their homeroom groups. For the first few weeks, meals will likely be simple box lunches until administrators and food service workers figure out best practices.
For students learning from home, meals will be available for pickup every day between 9-10 a.m. Families must sign up for pickup meals and pay through food service.
The Kid Connection child care service will be available before and after school. Should the district move into full-time distance learning, that service will only be available to students of essential workers.
Visitors, vendors and outside organizations will not be allowed in district buildings.
Lindholm informed the board that the district should receive roughly $400,000 in COVID-19 funds from “a few areas,” including the state. Lindholm said he is grateful for the additional funds, as the district has already spent more than $50,000 on personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
He also said that roughly 20% of students have opted for distance learning, which is higher than several other area schools.
Also during its Monday, Aug. 17, meeting, the board discussed recreational space needs and the proposed joint facility with the city of Pequot Lakes, but agreed it was not the best time to place the project on the taxpayers.
“When that plan (came about), there was not a pandemic,” board member Susan Mathison-Young said. “From March on, the world has changed and our plans have changed … I don’t think this is the correct thing to do right now.”
Board member Dena Moody echoed that sentiment, calling the situation “bad timing.” Board chair Kim Bolz-Andolshek suggested that the board only move forward if the city were to donate the land and the voters were to approve the funds, with which the board agreed.
In other action Monday, the board:
Approved the addition of one full-time teaching position at Eagle View Elementary School and two middle- and high-school paraprofessional positions. The positions are covered with one-time funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
Approved an agreement with the city for the school liaison officer. The cost to the district for the coming school year is a 4% increase from the previous year at $4,968.89 per month.
Conducted a second reading on a policy regarding school activities, with a revision stating that district funds would not be used to finance national level competitions. The board will vote on the matter after three readings.
Accepted one donation to the district totaling $250.
Accepted the resignations of copy center employee Pamela Dorian, van driver Mary Ryan, registrar Hannah Spiczka, and long-term substitute teacher Elisa Ingberg.
Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.