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All students at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School in Mound returned to school in person this year. Grades K-8 started Sept. 1, and preschoolers started the following week. (Submitted photos/Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School)

K-8 students enrolled at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School returned to their desks for in-person learning at all grade levels Sept. 1, with preschoolers starting a week later.

The main focus was on bringing students back safely for in-person learning at all grade levels, said principal Becky Kennedy. “Our mission of teaching students how to praise God, work hard and love one another thrives when we are in person and developing authentic relationships.” Kennedy said that families’ willingness to adapt to new protocols and safety guidelines was an “outstanding partnership.”

The school, which serves students in grades K-8, has been serving the Westonka community for 59 years. This year, OLL has full classes for preschool through fourth grade, and administration attributed some of that enrollment to families’ high preference for in-person instruction this fall, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“While we have been growing and thriving for the past seven years, we have seen an uptick in enrollment from public school families looking for in-person learning,” said Kassie Ricke, advancement director. “We are excited for this opportunity to share all the benefits OLL has to offer our new families. From personalized learning, faith and values to leadership and service towards others, OLL has a unique opportunity to open hearts and minds to our way of teaching.”

OLL’s decision to reopen all grades to in-person instruction was made based on direction from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and was made independent of Gov. Tim Walz’s late July announcement guiding Minnesota’s public schools in their fall 2020 safe learning plans.

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