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Superintendent Olson addresses questions, concerns on upcoming distance learning

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Temporary distance learning communication was sent out to parents and guardians Tuesday evening by Crookston School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson, and several answers to the question of “Why” the learning model was changed were highlighted. Instruction dates and classroom schedules, school age childcare, and food service was also addressed.

    It was also communicated Tuesday that each of the district’s schools, Washington Elementary, Highland Elementary and Crookston High School were notified of a positive COVID-19 case and close contacts were informed. Washington’s positive case was their first case of the 2020-21 school year.

Why a temporary distance learning period?

    “We have a great deal of spread in our community that potentially may be made worse by family gatherings at Thanksgiving,” explained Olson. “We wanted to put some distance between Thanksgiving and the restarting of in person instruction. If people are going to become symptomatic after Thanksgiving, we should begin to see signs of this prior to the return to school on December 10th.”

    He added, “We wanted to execute a temporary distance learning period on our timeline so that we could get our parents ready, give you due notice, and implement this period in a planned manner versus a one day noticed shutdown. This provides predictability in a very unpredictable time period. We also wanted our first temporary distance learning period to be planned so that we are better prepared for future distance learning periods should this become necessary on short notice.

    This period will allow us to get our staff and students who have been placed in quarantine back and serves as a reset for our school. Staffing becomes very problematic as close contacts must be quarantined at home thus cause severe shortages as we attempt to provide high quality in person programming.”

Instruction

    “Crookston Public Schools will be entering a short term distance learning period from November 23, 2020-December 9, 2020. December 9th will be handled in the same format as the previous 2W day with an asynchronous assignment. In person instruction will begin on December 10, 2020. During this period, November 23-24 will be reserved for the Teachers to prepare and plan for distance learning. November 25th will be the first day of distance learning instruction.

    During this time all students will receive instruction via distance learning. There will be specific times in which students will need to join their classroom electronically as provided by the teacher’s schedule. Device pickup for elementary age students will be on Tuesday November 24th at both Washington Elementary School and Highland Elementary School. High School devices have previously been distributed.”

School Age Childcare

    “School age childcare will be provided by Crookston Public Schools for parents identified as an essential sector employee under the Governor’s safety plan and those already registered in Crookston’s School Age Care Program. To limit the spread of COVID 19 we are housing this program out of all three buildings and will be grouping by family groups to cut down on potential exposure. If you are a qualifying essential sector employee and wish to sign up for this program please contact your child’s school asap as we need to ensure that our staffing levels are adequate to meet student needs.”

Food Service Program

    “Crookston Public Schools will be providing a free meal service during this temporary distance learning period. We will be providing a grab and go option as well as a delivery option. The delivery option is reserved for individuals within city limits who are not able to access the grab and go option. This program will start on November 23 and will be housed out of Highland Elementary School from 11am-12:30pm on regularly scheduled school days during this distance learning period. Contact: 218-281-5313 ext. 7.”

    Superintendent Olson also recognized the hardship on district parents and apologized, noting the learning model change decision was not made lightly.

    “I realize that this temporary distance learning period causes our parents a great deal of hardship. For that I sincerely apologize, this decision was not made lightly as we must consider a variety of factors. I would not have recommended this course of action if I did not believe that this was in the best interest of our students, families, and staff. If you have questions or concerns about what we are doing, please feel free to contact me at 218-770-8717 or email me at jeremyolson@isd593.org. Go Pirates!”