Distance learning, child care, food access, technology access at home are among major issues being addressed

    With Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday ordering a statewide closure of K-12 schools from Wednesday, March 18 until Friday, March 27 – with classes as of now planned to resume on Monday, March 30 – Crookston School District leaders are in overdrive as they prepare to get as many things in place as they can before the closure commences.

    And the plans being made in Crookston and in school districts throughout the state, especially when it comes to distance learning capabilities, are taking into account the very real possibility that schools will not reopen for classes on March 30.

    “During the school closure for students, Crookston School District will be joining school districts and charter schools across the state to create plans to equitably distribute distance learning to our students should we need to close schools statewide for a longer period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendent Jeremy Olson stated in his Sunday announcement. “The Minnesota Department of Education is defining distance learning to mean that a student receives daily interaction with their licensed teacher(s) and appropriate educational materials. Starting March 30, 2020, per the instruction from the Minnesota Department of Education, student learning will continue for the rest of the school year.”

    Meanwhile, there are other plans to make, among them child care and the availability of nutritious food for students that rely on school meals as a critical source of food each day.

    Regarding child care, Olson on Monday announced that before-school and after-school child care will be closed March 18-27 as well. But, based on Walz’s order, child care will be provided from 6:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting on March 18 and continuing during the time that schools are closed for parents who work in the following roles: health care providers, post acute and long term care facilities, home care workers, personal care assistants, ambulance/emergency, direct care and treatment, first responders, firefighters, corrections personnel, veterans homes staff, MNsure navigators, county case managers, county financial eligibility workers, emergency management, and health and human service workers.

    Olson said parents in those fields should contact Highland School at 281-5600 to make arrangements. They will have to show proof of being employed in one of those fields as part of the registration.

    Then there are the preparations for distance learning for students, from home. On Monday, students were sent home with a survey seeking information on their access to technology and the internet at their home, or their access to or lack of access to a device for distance learning if they are students at Highland. The survey also provides an opportunity for parents to share any concerns they have about technology access.

    Parents are asked to fill the survey out immediately and return it by March 17.

    “Once our distance learning plan is finalized we will communicate the plan to families,” Olson said. “Our educators will be giving thoughtful planning to our distance learning plan, offering careful consideration for students in a variety of areas, including students receiving special education services, multilingual learners, students experiencing homelessness, and students who rely on meals served at school.”