Pequot Lakes: Schools prep for 'fall like no other,' superintendent says

The Pequot Lakes Public Schools parking lots were empty Monday, March 16, after Gov. Tim Walz ordered all schools in the state to close for at least the next two weeks. Nancy Vogt / Echo Journal

In the Pequot Lakes School Board's regular meeting Monday, April 20, Superintendent Chris Lindholm said the district should begin preparing for a “fall like no other” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we're meeting in schools, we will likely have to deal with high levels of absenteeism and the possibility of periodic closures or interruptions due to the continued presence of the COVID-19 virus,” Lindholm said. “We may also need to get really creative if the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) maintains their current guidelines regarding social distancing and large gatherings.”

The school administration has recommended staff “stay the course” on distance learning practices, and that teachers be provided 60 hours of optional curriculum writing time over the summer, so lessons for the whole first quarter of the 2020-21 school year can be built in the event schools need to close abruptly.

“We were originally planning on providing every teacher with 12 hours of curriculum writing development time before the pandemic,” Lindholm said. “We feel it's wise to increase that in the current situation so teachers feel they are prepared to deploy a high-quality and robust distance learning process or strategy in the fall.”

The superintendent said the district is home to roughly 200 students who have an underlying condition of some sort that would make them more at risk for complications if they were to contract COVID-19.


“If we can't provide them with a robust distance learning option that they feel safe with, we run the risk of those students opting to enroll in an online school of some kind,” he said. “We simply can't afford that kind of a financial hit without staff reductions and all kinds of painful cuts.

“So our task between now and then is to make what we have to offer here the very best option for our Patriot families, even the ones who are vulnerable and may have to learn from a distance.”

When board members look at a revised budget proposal next month, Lindholm said they will see a “purposeful spend-down” of reserved professional development funds to provide teachers the necessary curriculum writing time.

As for current distance learning, Lindholm said the staff has settled into a routine, and it is going fairly smoothly. The district is providing more than 2,300 meals (breakfast and lunch) per day for students, as well as daycare for 15 to 25 children of essential personnel, depending on the day.

The number of students who have not engaged with teachers in some way is down to just a handful at each level.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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