By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

Due to a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Houston County, the Spring Grove School District switched the learning model ahead of the Sept. 8 school start. 

Elementary grades will start in-person every day, while grades 7-12 will be in the hybrid model. The recommendation was made by Superintendent Rachel Udstuen, who said the hybrid learning model is actually more advantageous for the district. Paraprofessionals have more flex time in that model and would be more available to students, as long as special education students’ needs are met first.

Having a majority of students gone from the building on Wednesdays also gives opportunity for cleaning protocols. By having the students “practice” distance learning when they’re not in the building, also helps them get ready for it in the event the school has to go full distance learning mode. 

Udstuen said the district could also make month-by-month decisions on the learning models. 

The board then discussed the guest policy and whether or not parent volunteers would be allowed in the classroom this year. After a lengthy conversation, board chair Aaron Solum said no visitors for the first month. 

Seniors and juniors will have open campus lunch five days a week this year. They have a little more flexibility in when to go to lunch, in order to stagger arrival and dismissal from the building.

Principal’s report

In his principal’s report, Luke Kjelland said the Student Well-Being Design Team was working on a consistent set of COVID terms to use in school among all grade levels. The team will determine which terms students should know. This team was formed to help the re-opening plan and has students, parents, community members and staff work on elements of the plan.

He also reported the team discussed addressing racial and and inequality issues. The team would look at past practices to see if they confirm or counter a negative world view. 

Assistant superintendent’s report

Assistant superintendent Gina Meinertz said she has been working on storylining for students and teachers. Storylining helps show students their learning and where they are going next in their learning. It also allows the student to give input, which aligns with Spring Grove’s plan for individualized learning. Meinertz has also worked with teachers on this topic as well. 

Another team to help with re-opening, the Student Success Design Team also met and talked about what worked in distance learning, instruction assessment, grading and recommendations to implement in the re-opening plan. 

She also met with City Administrator Julie Amundson to discuss outdoor learning spaces in city parks. Meinertz connected with a teacher from Norway, who was able to provide sample lesson plans for outdoor classrooms. 

Other news

The school district approved Bearbower Tree Service to remove three trees from school property that were dead. The cost was $2,500. 

The board approved Winona Controls to install three more water bottle fillers for the cost of $4,900. The water bottle fillers will take the place of drinking fountains this year, due to COVID. 

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Spring Grove School board will be held Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. A Google Meet link will be available for those who wish to address the board.

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