Superintendent Olson said recently he was 99.9% sure students and staff wouldn't return to their classrooms this spring.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker recently announced the extension of state school closures through the end of the school year and Crookston Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Olson said Crookston will follow their school calendar and extend distance learning until the last day of school May 27.
Olson said in an emailthat the announcement was made to give schools time to plan and prepare, and he understands that “this is not what any of us wanted” and he knows how “disruptive” it has been to students and families especially upcoming graduates.
With the exception of May 1 and May 4, as those will be planning days for the district’s distance education staff and not instructional days, online education will continue through May 27 plus the “grab and go” food service and childcare for “critical sector workers” will be offered on all instructional days as well. The originally-scheduled 2W day on May 13 will be a normal distance learning instructional day.
“We are here to support our families and kids,” said Olson. “We understand that this has been a very difficult time for many of our families as we cope with this new reality. We thank you for your continued support of Crookston Public Schools during this time.”
During a phone call with the Times and when asked about graduation for the 2020 seniors, Olson mentioned the district hasn’t nailed down a plan for a ceremony. Yet.
“Because guidelines continue to change, we would need to prioritize and figure out if we can have an in-person graduation with social distancing or, if we can’t do that, than maybe a drive through,” he explained. “We do have a concern if we push it into the summer and we’d be losing some seniors, if they’re still around. There are several different (graduation) ideas being thrown around and we’re also waiting on guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education.”
Olson added that he knows parents and seniors are waiting on the district’s decision.
When asked about the summer lunch food program that the district and USDA partner on that typically runs from June to August, Olson said the plan is to continue with the program but he’s unaware of a start date and they will be practicing social distancing.
“If we continue to make 900 plus meals a day during distance learning then we will have to take a good look at starting earlier,” he pointed out adding that he will be discussing the summer food program with Food Service Director Anna Brekken, who is currently on maternity leave.
In regards to all of the district’s electronic devices that are loaned out to students who are currently doing distance learning, Olson said an announcement will be made in May and the district may host an “activity” to have a device return the last week of school.