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Olson: All students will get free meals through Dec. 31

School starts Sept. 8 in Crookston Public Schools, and Superintendent Jeremy Olson continues to provide frequent updates on various topics. Today it's food service, transportation, bus software, etc.

Jeremy Olson, Crookston School District superintendent

Good Afternoon Crookston Pirate Families!

First of all I want to thank the families that helped us out by transporting students for the afternoons! With your help we now have our afternoon buses within the capacity limits set by the state without significantly impacting the instructional day. We could not have done this without your help, thank you so much! I appreciate how this community continues to step up to make sure that we do the right thing for our kids!

Secondly, I want to communicate last minute changes that have happened at the Federal level that will impact Food Service. I want to emphasize that MDE just sent out final guidance on this which is why you are only hearing about this now. Please note that we still will need everyone who is eligible to fill out Free/Reduced lunch applications as these directly benefits our local schools financially over an above the Food Service benefits. These number allow us to secure grants and other funding such as additional Preschool funding which has allowed our recent expansions of Preschool.

Here is a message from  Anna Brekken, Food Service Director:

Food Services will be opting into the USDA waiver to extend free meals to all students until December 31, 2020 or when available funds have been exhausted.

How does this impact your students? All students will receive free meals (up to one breakfast and one lunch per day) until government funds have been exhausted or through December 31, 2020 regardless of meal status. After funds have been exhausted, students will receive meals based on meal status for the remainder of the year. Please note that any additional items, such as a la carte options or second meals will be an additional charge.

Is this available to distance learners? Yes, free meals are available to all students regardless of learning model. If your children are distance learning, you can utilize the grab and go option located at the high school. The grab and go option request form can be found on the school website under the food service tab.

What do I need to do? We are asking all families to please fill out a Free and Reduced meal application form prior to October 1, 2020 as this will impact the financial assistance available to our school.

The third item that I want to communicate is about transportation communication. We have implemented a new program which we hope will streamline communication with families for busing. At this time not all features are green lighted as we are still implementing the full program, however, an email was sent out that contained busing and routing information to all parents. If you did not receive this communication please contact the Bus Garage at 218-281-544. The bus garage will be open on Monday, Sept. 7th to allow for last minute communications on bus routes or to answer transportation specific questions. We apologize for the last minute nature of this, which is why the bus garage will be open on Monday.

Finally, I wanted to remind our parents of the following:

Masks are required for school while students are in the building and when students are on the bus. If you don't have a mask for your child we do have cloth masks available as well as disposable masks if students forget. Please talk to your child about the importance of social distancing as we will be reinforcing this message at school in an effort to keep students and staff safe. We also ask that you review the screening tool sent earlier this week to parents and screen your students before they leave home. We will then be doing temp checks on the bus and at school for those students who don't ride the bus.

Thank you for your efforts and partnership with our schools!