Tiger Talk: How far have we come?
In October, we were still hoping and praying for the state of Minnesota to allow fall sports.
Last October, I submitted a column for Tiger Talk titled “Resilience." At the time of writing that column I didn’t know the extent to which our resiliency as an educator, a student, a parent and a community member was going to be tested.
In the October column I shared “RESILIENCE” means an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. This definition seemed simple enough, but after 14 months with COVID-19 the word "easily" needs to be removed. We are recovering and adjusting, but it is taking work, understanding, patience and sacrifices to get this far.
How far have we come since October?
PR-B Schools are in full in-person learning, with distance learning for those who have chosen this learning model and for those students who need to quarantine as required by executive order.
In October, we were still hoping and praying for the state of Minnesota to allow fall sports. We have completed modified fall and winter sports schedules, and are currently in the middle of spring sports. In February, we held homecoming activities and coronation.
It is with great anticipation that we look forward to prom (one week away) and graduation (24 days and counting).
How have we gotten where we are today?
I wish I could say the word “easily” applies here, but that is far from the truth. Our students have endured a lot over the past 14 months with numerous stints in quarantine by executive orders while having games, programs and events canceled due to other schools or our own possible exposures.
The vaccinations have made it possible to keep staffing support at levels to maintain school operations. Our school nurse has kept a very close eye on the constantly changing demographics associated with the local, county and state spread of the virus.
How will the next few weeks look?
Help continue our in-person learning by keeping your child home once they begin experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19. This can be confusing as many of the symptoms are similar to seasonal allergies. After all, it is springtime in Minnesota with pollen in the air.
COVID-19 testing for confirmation of positive cases remains extremely important. Minnesota is experiencing high circulation of variants of COVID-19 variant strains. The spread of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 is contributing to a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases statewide in Minnesota, and in particular we are seeing more cases concentrated in the school-age population, especially among middle and high school students.
The Minnesota Department of Education along with the Minnesota Department of Health are strongly recommending that every middle and high school student get tested for COVID-19 every two weeks. Students participating in sports are strongly recommended to test at least once per week.
You can order a VAULT take-home test from Cass County by going to their website at co.cass.mn.us and clicking the "COVID-19 Response" tab, then entering the necessary information. The Minnesota Department of Health has given permission for schools to send the kits into the labs to make it easier for families who may not be able to get to a UPS drop off site.
Your confidentiality is fully protected and only you get the results.
Our goal is to have the most successful end of the 2020-2021 school year as possible in the last weeks of school. This hopefully includes prom, field trips, sporting events, concerts, theatre productions, graduation and celebrations, but it will take all of us to make this happen.
Jon Clark is the Pine River-Backus School District superintendent.