A detailed school re-entry blueprint was thoroughly discussed at Wednesday’s Upsala School Board meeting. The plan was presented by Supt. Vern Capelle and labelled “1.0” due to its fluid nature as things continue to change on an almost-daily basis.
The blueprint outlines three possible scenarios for the coming school year. The first is completely in-person learning at the school. Principal Nick Klug described probable changes to the daily class schedule, in that event.
“The school day would be from 8:30 to 3:15. There will be five extra minutes added at the start of the day, to ease hallway congestion. Extra passing time is allowed between classes,” he said.
Capelle described a likely change would be to shut down water fountains but keep the four current bottle-filling stations open. More stations might be added.
The second scenario is a hybrid learning model that includes both in-person learning and distance learning.
“That scenario includes a strict adherence to the 50% capacity of whatever space the students are in. We have a goal to have K-4 students in the school every day, with modifications. We feel we can meet the requirements for space for students in grades 5-12 with an A/B schedule,” Capelle said.
Some of the modifications proposed for the K-4 students include having specialty teachers come to the school rooms, instead of the students moving around the building to different classroom areas. Breakfast and lunch will be served in the classroom.
The A/B schedule for upper level students includes each group attending in-school two days a week, with Wednesday of each week being filled with on-site project work or appointments with particular teachers, as needed and requested by the students.
The third scenario would be all distance learning.
“We learned a lot during those months in the spring,” Capelle said. “We have more time to be ready now. There will be more structure and more live sessions.”
Another thing the district wants to happen is each student having a Chromebook, no matter which scenario is ultimately the plan.
“We’re looking at 1:1 Chromebooks, using CARES Act funding,” Capelle said.
Of every area of the whole education picture looked at, transportation is anticipated to be the biggest challenge. One unknown is the bus drivers, since most of them are in the at-risk category for the virus.
“We’re not sure how that’s going to work. We’ll survey parents to find out their plans. There will very likely be a staggered bus schedule so there will be fewer students on a bus at a time,” Capelle said.
Board member Karin Nelson praised the administration for such a thorough and well-thought out plan. She emphasized that parents are not throwing caution to the wind, but that the unanimous feedback she has received from the community is to have students back in school.
“Communication will be key. Changes and updates are anticipated, some with very little notice,” Capelle said.
Guidelines for schools from the State of Minnesota are anticipated to be released in the coming week.
The district has set a deadline of Aug. 21 to have the final version of the plan published, prior to the start of school.
Upsala School Board Briefs:
Other business coming before the Upsala School Board at its monthly meeting, Wednesday, included:
• Adopted the field trip policy;
• Approved the 2020-2021 PSEO contract with Central Lakes College;
• Adopted the resolution approving the district’s long-term facilities maintenance plan;
• Approved the MDE Pathways I agreement for early learning scholarships;
• Adopted the resolution declaring Supt. Vern Capelle to be the “identified official of authority” for the MDE external user recertification access system; and
• Approved the Title grant/CARES Act award amounts as presented.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Upsala School Board will be Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center.