There is a lot for school districts across Minnesota to take into consideration when planning for the 2020-21 school year amidst a pandemic.
Supt. George Weber told the Pierz School Board, Wednesday, that he had hoped that the press conferences and information provided by the Governor’s Office and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) would have had more guidelines.
Although the three scenarios of either all students on-site, distance learning or a combination of the two through a hybrid model were not new to the school, Weber said they assumed districts would have the option of choosing one model.
However, after the recent press conferences and information provided by the Governor Office and MDE, Weber said he and the others who heard the data were surprised by school districts being essentially asked to make three plans instead of one.
“The presentation did not directly come out and say you have to do all three, but seemed to lean in that direction. So it was surprising for me to get the impression that they are not asking for us to plan for scenario one, two or three, but instead we should plan for the capacity to do all of them. Maybe at the same time,” he said.
If some students are not in school while some are, the question arose as to whether they would have enough bus drivers available and other help to both deliver meals with the bus and feed students on-site at the same time.
Since schools are allowed to have students in the school at 50% capacity while implementing social distancing, Weber said by reading further, the 50% capacity is determined by the number of persons allowed in a specific room. By utilizing the classrooms, the gym, band room and other large areas, Weber said it may be possible to have the entire student body return and remain social distanced. Only — they wouldn’t be able to leave the room since the school’s hallways wouldn’t be able to hold all of the students while remaining at 50% capacity and social distancing.
“So we have to think about that. They just wouldn’t be able to all leave at the same time,” he said.
To make that happen, the administrative team would have to look at the different schedules and figure out a way to make it all come together somehow.
Another question that many school districts battle, including the Pierz School District, is how can they provide transportation for its students while remaining social distanced on the bus. Can children from the same household sit together or do they have to be social distanced, too? There are many questions the Pierz School District is seeking answers for.
Although it appears that most parents favor the students returning to school on-site, Weber said the school plan on sending parents a survey sometime mid-July to get a better insight into what the majority of them are comfortable with as well as how many would be able to bring them to and from school.
“The message to our community is we intend on having school. We intend on having as many children as possible,” Weber said.
One thing the school recognizes is that many students are motivated to come to school because they are able to participate in certain activities or subjects they consider to be fun, such as art, welding or baseball. Because of this, the school is also looking at ways they can continue to make school fun.
Pierz School Board Briefs
In other business Wednesday, the Pierz School Board:
• Accepted the following donations: $500 from Buh Township for community education - summer recreation, $100 from Roosevelt Township for summer recreation, $1,500 from Belle Prairie Township for summer recreation, $5,000 from Five Wings Arts Council for summer theater and $240 from Farmers and Merchants State Bank for staff CPR classes;
• Approved the child care leave request for Kristie Virnig beginning on or about Oct. 12 for eight weeks;
• Approved hiring Zach Otremba as high school custodian II, pending a criminal background check;
• Approved the following for summer school: Teacher Jill Hoheisel, Bus Driver Jason Lease, Bus Driver Ron Grittner, Back-up Bus Driver Jerry Sanoski, Bus Aide Brenda Barker, Bus Aide Deb Froelich and Back-up Bus Aide Joan Sanoski;
• Approved paying Climate Makers Inc. as per the preventative maintenance agreement for the 2020-21 fiscal year at an annual cost of $25,600;
• Approved paying the annual Minnesota Rural Education Association membership dues in the amount of $2,170 for July 1, 2020 - June 20, 2021;
• Approved increasing the breakfast and lunch prices by five cents for the 2020-21 fiscal year with no increase to milk, athletic fees, ticket fees or busing fees;
• Approved the work agreement between Core Professional Services, PA and ISD 484 to provide educational support for ITV college courses for the 2020-21 school year, not to exceed $4,500;
• Approved the agreement between Core Professional Services, PA and ISD 484 to provide psychological evaluations to the students of Pierz Schools as needed for the 2020-21 school year at a rate of $150 per hour;
• Approved paying the annual Minnesota School Board Association membership dues and policy service renewal fees in the amount of $5,585 for the 2020-21 fiscal year;
• Adopted the long term facilities maintenance 10-year plan;
• Established dates for filing affidavits of candidacy. The period for filing affidavits for the office of school board member of ISD 484 will begin July 28 and will close Aug. 11, at 5 p.m.;
• Approved Q Comp program updates;
• Adopted a resolution for the ISD 484 entering an agreement with the State of Minnesota, St. Cloud State University Board of Trustees for the purpose of providing supervisory services for students from St. Cloud State University;
• Renewed IEA Health and Safety Management Services for 2021-2023 at an annual price of $6,750;
• Discussed the possibility of broadcasting or recording the School Board meeting. No decision was made; and
• Approved the Grad Bash Committee to purchase an ad for the school calendar in the amount of $250 and to contribute $1,400 toward the printing and delivery of 250 school calendars.
The Pierz School Board’s next regular meeting will be Wednesday, July 29, at 6 p.m. in the high school media center.