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One of many, many hand sanitizer dispensers placed around Mayer Lutheran High School for students and staff to use throughout the day. (Photo submitted by Joel Landskroener)

We’re already in July, and getting close to the halfway mark for school summer breaks. While many schools in Minnesota are waiting for direction from the Department of Health and Department of Education on what the fall semester is going to look like, private schools are able to make their own decisions. Mayer Lutheran High School announced on June 23 that they intend to reopen in the fall, and are preparing the new rules and procedures in the upcoming months.

“We pay attention to what the Department of Health says and try to follow the regulations and guidelines, but after surveying the community, we found that parents and students wanted to come back,” said Joel Landskroener, executive director at Mayer Lutheran High School. “We’ve set up the protocols to actually be pretty stringent for our kids and a pretty detailed plan going forward.”

Those protocols actually cover quite a bit. First, students need a clean bill of health from their parents, not dissimilar to the questionnaires some businesses have been giving to patrons. Students will also have their temperature taken as they come in. Luckily, Mayer Lutheran was able to purchase some infrared thermometers to keep everything sanitary.

Masks will be a requirement for staff and students, as well as social distancing. Students don’t need to wear their masks during physical education, however. To facilitate this between classes, Mayer Lutheran will be staggering class times and students will be carrying everything in their bags instead of returning to their lockers. There are also hand sanitizer dispensers every 10 feet or so for staff and students to keep their hands clean.

Speaking of their bags, students will be required to bring sanitary wipes to class to wipe down their desks and doorknobs when they move to different classes.

Classes will also be taking place in unique areas, such as the Field House, to help out with social distancing protocols.

“We can hold three or four in the Field House, and our technology can easily be moved there for spacing purposes,” said Landskroener.

Hot lunches are also being treated with care. According to Landskroener, there are a few ideas bouncing around, including having lunch delivered to students in classrooms in order to prevent the cafeteria from being over crowded.

The final big protocol is if a student or staff members gets sick or comes into contact with someone who is. They have to get tested. Even if they test negative, the student or staff member cannot come back for 10 days in case of a false negative. If they receive a positive result, they cannot come in for 14 days. If there is a positive result, not everyone will go home, according to Landskroener, but protocol would be accounted for if classmates and staff begin to show symptoms.

“We don’t really know exactly how it’s going to work until it starts,” he said. “The bottom line is we have some plans, and we expect some things to happen, but we’re planning for it.”

There are of course plans in place for if a second lockdown occurs.

“We have plans from A to Z,” said Landskroener. “Full shut down is plan Z, and we’re hoping not to go back there. However, with experience in e-learning, we are ready if it happens.”

E-learning will still be utilized if needed, such as a student getting tested for COVID-19, or even having a prolonged absence due to sickness or injury.

As for fall activities, until the Department of Health, Minnesota State High School League, and Department of Education release a protocol, Mayer Lutheran doesn’t have a definitive plan. According to Landskroener, the idea of flipping the spring and fall sports is floating around since spring sports a little easier to distance compared to fall. However, with nothing confirmed right now, activities and sports are uncertain for fall.

Mayer Lutheran will be opening its doors on August 26 if all things go to plan. Until then, staff will continue to plan for their students coming back, and the contingencies if they cannot. Landskroener recommends to parents to purchase sanitary wipes sooner rather than later for the students to wipe down their desks, as well as purchasing masks. For any updates one the situation, keep an eye on Mayer Lutheran’s social media or visit their website at mayerlutheran.org.

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