Crookston public schools could return to full-time in-person learning in February

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Crookston public schools could return to Learning Model 1, full-time in-person learning, as early as February if the school board approves at their meeting Monday, Superintendent Jeremy Olson told the Times. Olson says he’s been exploring the option for three weeks as students returned from their holiday break and he feels, after watching COVID-19 numbers go down and hearing area schools discussing their own options, that it could be time.

    He also added that district schools have not had a COVID cases since their January return.

    “Masks are still required, we’ll still be doing temperature checks and we will social distance as much as possible,” Olson explained. “We want to communicate to our parents and give them at least a week’s notice that this could happen out of courtesy. We would be looking at February to start (Learning Model 1) as this is a change and we don’t want it to be a chaotic mess.”

    Olson added that teachers and staff will need planning time, per the governor’s order, for a model change and reiterated that, again, it’s up the school board to make the final decision.

    “We will be doing some additional mitigation strategies like in music where one section could be in another spot in the building to allow for distancing, as, for example, when you’re singing you have to have appropriate spacing and we just can’t get that done,” he continued. “We are still exploring and there are some (student) sections that are too large, the largest being 33 (students.) We need to factor in our distance learners, too; realistically I’d like our classes to be no more than 24 but we’re still working on how to make that happen and we can’t promise that will happen in all cases.”

    Olson said the other piece that the district needs to consider is, per the governor’s order, they are required to “phase in” the grades and can only roll in three grades per building in a two-week time period. He explained that the plan would be to usher in grades 7, 8 and 9 first and then add grades 10-12 second, adding that it would be a way to “stress test” the system.

    When asked if the learning model change would affect activities or sports in any way, Olson said it would not.

    “This is the board’s decision, but I’ve been waiting all year to bring this to the board,” he added. “I’m excited.”

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