Crookston Public Schools: 100% in-person learning coming

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    Crookston High School students will return to school full-time for in-person learning starting as early as February 1 after the School Board this week approved the change to Model 1. Grades 7, 8 and 9 will return on Monday, February 1 full-time and, due to a mandated two-week wait time for school model changes, grades 10, 11 and 12 will return full-time on Tuesday, February 16 as the 15th is a holiday.

    CHS Principal Eric Bubna sent a message to parents Monday announcing the model change and mentioned that distance learning will continue to be an option for those who choose it.

    “Under the governor’s orders we can only bring back three grades at a time and we must provide teachers with two days of planning time,” said Bubna in his message to parents. “That means there will be no school at CHS this Thursday or Friday (January 28 and 29.)”

    “Elementary schools will still be in session,” he added. “7th-9th grade will be full face to face on Monday, February 1st. 10th-12th grade will remain in Hybrid until Feb. 16th at which time they will return.”

    Bubna also eluded that future communication from the district will be released Wednesday (Jan. 27) with more details and offered parents the ability to reach out with any questions.

SCHOOL BOARD COMMENTS

    Superintendent Jeremy Olson told the School Board this week that he’s been waiting since last March to bring the model change recommendation forward and, after talking with Polk County Public Health, felt it was a move that could be made.

    “We can’t guarantee six feet of social distancing in the high school and we’d be bringing our groups together and having everyone here every day, and will double kids in classrooms, but we’ve seen the county numbers go down quite a bit and believe the time is now,” he explained.

    School Board member Dave Davidson offered a concern of bringing grades 10-12 back last as “especially seniors” would be missing a lot of school. Olson answered stating that they’ve prioritized younger kids for in-person first as they “tend to need a little more adult intervention and interaction.”

    School Board member Mike Theis asked Olson if the district was prepared to bring students back as soon as February 1 and Olson said “It’s nice to work with really good principals” and confirmed they are prepared.

    “There is some logic and we will be stress-testing the system; we’re not going to say we’re always prepared and doing Model 1 in a climate of COVID will be challenging as there’s always things you didn’t foresee,” Olson explained. “When I say we’re prepared, we’re prepared to do this.”

    The board had a little back and forth between a start date of February 1 as high school teachers would need two days of planning time with no school those days, plus alternative dates of February 3 and February 8 were offered as some felt February 1 was a “rush job”, but ultimately the board chose to return to full-time in-person learning as soon as possible.

    Olson reiterated that masks will still be in place plus temperature checks, and added that transportation is still set at 50% which meant that he would ask parents to continue to help the district with transporting their students.

    “The natural solution is to add routes, but we don’t have drivers to add routes,” he admitted.