The following statement from Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent, is consistent with a governor’s directive the school district move forward with distance learning beginning March 30, 2020:

“My intent is to inform you of some of the work the Redwood Area School District employees have been doing as we all battle the coronavirus-COVID-19. It will also provide information to families of RASD students as we prepare to provide "distance learning."

“Our Taher Food Service providers have been working since March 18 to prepare almost 600 meals per day (bagged lunches for the day and breakfasts for the next morning) for all students in the area. Once prepared, these meals are delivered by employees of Thielen Bus Lines to 11 different distribution sites where families/students pick the meals up. We expect this to continue until Gov. Walz directs us differently.

“Our Reede Gray Early Childhood daycare staff have been providing daycare for children (ages three-12) of area emergency providers and essential workers on a daily basis since March 18. We expect this to continue until Governor Walz directs us differently.

“The entire staff of the Redwood Area School District has been working steadily to prepare for ‘distance learning’ scheduled to begin Monday, March 30, 2020. That is the first day our teachers and support staff will begin working with our students through ‘distance learning.’

“All of our students in Kindergarten through 12th grade will be expected to use their technology devices (iPads for Kindergarteners and first graders and Chromebooks for second through 12th graders). Likewise, our teachers will be using their technology equipment to communicate directly with their students on a daily basis.

"Our teachers will work from school (or possibly from their home) to communicate directly with their students. Students will be in their homes or at a remote ‘off school site’ where Internet access is available.

"In the next few days, parents and students will receive additional e-mails from us giving more guidance on how “distance learning” is planned. We have created a “technology helpdesk” that parents/students may contact if they have any technology questions. You may contact the helpdesk at helpdesk@redwoodareaschools.com, or by calling (507) 644-8385.

"Finally, we want all students and parents to know that we are beginning the “distance learning” process very gradually. The first few days with “distance learning” will be focused on reconnecting socially with our students. We will gradually work together to begin introducing lessons, but we intend to begin very slowly. Please do everything you can to reduce your own or your child’s anxiety about “distance learning."

"We are not expecting “distance learning” to go perfectly. In fact, we expect problems in the beginning. Our goal for each of our teachers will be to improve how we work with every one of our students every single day.

"The academic instruction and learning will follow later. We ask you to support us by ensuring your children participate in “distance learning” every day. We know that we can work out every concern that arises if we can openly engage and communicate with one another. Thank you in advance for your support.

Learn more at redwoodareaschools.com.

- Photo by Ben Stoterau