This week North Branch Area Public Schools officially started the 2020-21 school year! We are so proud to offer in-school hybrid services as well as a Distance Learning Academy option for families. In this way we provide families safety and flexibility based on their comfort level with the pandemic response.

All of our schools and programs began the school year officially on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Unlike a typical school year though, a “soft start” is being utilized to ease both staff and families into the school year. It gives students and parents/guardians a chance to review the safety guidelines in smaller groups, provides staff an opportunity to assess where students are educationally following a spring of remote learning. It also provides everyone the opportunity to get used to changes to the school day due to distancing and mask guidelines before we welcome students to school en masse later in the week.

On the subject of welcoming, I am so grateful for all of the student volunteers who helped staff clean and decorate our Distance Learning Academy, Norse Area Learning Center, and contingency spaces at the Shops at Gateway North! So many of them expressed gratitude for having an option that allows them to avoid the school setting while having the option of receiving in-person services a couple times a week as well as a place to go to access the school district’s WiFi during the day.

Months of planning and anticipation culminated this week with the return of school at long last! We know we are facing a year of unknowns in many ways, but we start the year confident we have plans in place to provide a safe environment and a coordinated set of adjustments to react to changes in the pandemic locally. Thank you to all the community members, civic organizations, businesses, and city staff and departments for working with us this summer to make the school year a reality!

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