Principal Nick Klug outlined the Upsala School District’s plan for the beginning of the new school year at the August School Board meeting, Wednesday. As always during this time of uncertainty due to the pandemic, the plan is subject to change if new information or directives should be released.
“The plan is to help us stay open and keep as many kids in school as we can,” said Supt. Vern Capelle.
Current enrollment for the fall is 357 students in grades K-12. There are 19 students who are opting out of in-person learning for distance learning. There are some families that are still undecided about what they are doing.
Changes made to policies and procedures for the coming year include a new block schedule for grades 7-12. There will be four 90-minute blocks, which will create less student movement throughout the school day. Blocks can be divided into smaller times to offer more class opportunities. Passing time between classes will be longer, and dismissal times will be staggered.
There will be three lunch blocks for grades 7-12, instead of the usual two.
Letters and schedules have been mailed to families, describing the changes.
There will be fewer students on the buses, as many families are stepping up to drop off and pick up students. There will be one bus loaded at a time. Door A is assigned to pre-K through sixth grade. Elementary students walking to school and elementary students being dropped off will use Door A. Door G will be for grades 7-12, parent drop-off and student drivers.
School dismissal at the end of the day will be staggered. Students will be dismissed by bus route.
At lunch, there will be no salad bar. If students want a salad, it will be pre-made. Students will “order” lunch during their first-block or first-hour class. If necessary for proper distancing, the commons and possibly the old gym will be used for lunch times.
There will be no back-to-school open house this year.
“We’re working on ways to do it virtually,” Klug said. “I will be doing the seventh grade and new-student orientation virtually on Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. Letters went out to families on Tuesday.”
Students, staff, and anyone in the building will need to wear a face covering.
Two live virtual community forums were conducted Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday at noon, to answer questions from parents, students and community members. It was hosted by both Capelle and Klug.
Upsala School Board Briefs
Other business coming before the Upsala School Board Wednesday, included:
• Approving the new student/parent handbook as presented;
• Approving the 2020-2021 contract for services from Accurate Home Care LLC;
• Approving agreements to share human resources with the Swanville School District: school nurse 33% for Upsala and 67% for Swanville; speech pathologist 60/40 and preschool paraprofessional 50/50. “We’re sharing their nurse, buying time from the Swanville district,” said Principal Nick Klug. The speech pathologist sharing time is based on student numbers;
• Approving a leave request from elementary music and FACS teacher Jenna Robertson;
• Approving a mandated lunch price increase of 10 cents, which makes the elementary price $2.50 and the high school price $2.65;
• Approving a 50 cents per hour raise for non-certified substitutes;
• Accepting the resignations of cook Bernice Opatz and paraprofessional Erica Evoniuk, both effective Aug. 17;
• Approving the hiring of an additional paraprofessional for the coming school year;
• Accepting the resignation of assistant girls basketball coach Amber Mayers;
• Adopting the resolution for the adoption of the in-person base-learning model for the coming school year and other COVID-19 related matters. The resolution includes provision for Supt. Vern Capelle to implement any necessary transitions between board meetings. The resolution was approved unanimously by roll-call vote;
• Accepting Coronavirus Relief Funds allocation of $91,801;
• Adopting Policy 808 – COVID-19 Face Covering Policy. This requires all students and staff to wear face covering while in the school building and in district vehicles, with accommodations where necessary. “This is a statewide mandate, not just an Upsala rule,” Capelle said. “It the executive order was lifted, we would come back and revisit this;”
• Approving the hiring of Sandy Boeckerman as assistant cook at $13 per hour for a seven-hour day and 172-day contract;
• Approving the hiring of Cassandra Skwira as paraprofessional; and
• Approving the addition of a cross-country coach to Schedule C of the Master Agreement. Compensation will be at 6% of BA-step 1. This is in effect for one year, while the district works with UEA to develop a memorandum of agreement. “After one week, there are 29 students from Holdingford and 15 students from Upsala participating,” Capelle said.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Upsala School Board will be Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center.