Five more weeks of distance learning and no spring school activities or events.

That’s the outcome of an announcement last Thursday, April 23, by Gov. Tim Walz that classrooms around the state will remain closed through the end of the school year to curb the spread of coronavirus.

For the Waconia public and private schools, that means continuing online learning that began back in March. It also means an end to any hopes for spring sports, end of the school year celebrations, and music programs – including the popular Waconia Marching Band season and Lake Waconia Band Festival.

“It has been said the things we love the most are the things that hurt the most when they are taken away. This is most certainly true today,” Waconia Marching Band directors wrote in a letter to families last Thursday announcing a halt to the season.

A message also went out on behalf of the Wildcat Activities Department announcing the cancellation of spring activities and athletics.

Distance learning was originally slated to end April 30, with two days of non-school days, May 1 and 4, scheduled to get ready for reopening. Now those will be used to hone the program for the home stretch, said Superintendent Pat Devine.

The district sent a survey to parents this week to get feedback on distance learning and how it can be improved for the remainder of the year. Individual teachers also will be reaching out to their own classroom families for more individualized feedback.

While distance learning is generally going very well, “this is really tough and some students are struggling,” District 110 Superintendent said at a school board meeting last Thursday. “We are concerned and we will be using these two days to focus on how we can help non-engaged students.”

District officials also will be working with the Waconia High School senior class and senior parents to determine ways to have a graduation celebration.

“While there are plenty of plans to be developed and decisions to be made, I want to assure you that there will be a commencement ceremony for our seniors,” WHS Principal Mark Fredericksen wrote in a weekly update. “In fact, no matter what we end up doing it will be a one of a kind, unforgettable event, unlike anything we’ve ever done at Waconia High School, and that seems appropriate for the Class of 2020.”

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