Superintendent Olson on the new school year, communication, Title and more

Submitted by Jeremy Olson
Crookston Times

Greetings from Crookston Public Schools!

While I had hoped for a completely normal start to school, the events of the last few weeks have indicated that we will have to put some safety measures in place as we begin the school year. What I am extremely excited about is the scope of our conversation compared to last year. Last year at this time, there were concerns about whether or not in-person instruction could even happen. This year, that is not even a discussion as we have learned that we can hold in-person instruction safely with scaffolded mitigation strategies. What was reconfirmed to us last year was that in-person instruction was by far better for students both academically and social-emotionally. While academic knowledge is far more accessible with the in-person model, even more so, is what is known as the hidden curriculum in schools. The hidden curriculum is often the skills that employers look for in employees that, while not always purposefully taught, is a byproduct of people working together. Employers seek employees that have the ability to work well with others, exhibit problem solving skills, and have the ability to work as a member of a team toward a shared goal. We continue to see evidence of the importance of in-person instruction and we are excited to be on the cusp of a somewhat “normal year” this year.

Strategic Plan

As we move into this next academic year, our emphasis at Crookston Public Schools will be on advancing our strategic plan as a school district. Our strategic plan consists of four core values:

Communication • A culture of high expectations • Relationships • Exceptional systems of support

We have attempted to increase our communication to you as community members and parents through various communication platforms such as social media, apps, regular communications via district contact system, and regular communications to our community. We also continue to emphasize the importance of relationships throughout our school community both individually and corporately. We have endeavored to build high quality relationships with our students and parents. Our district has also made it a priority to collaborate with various partners in our community such as the University of MN Crookston, the City of Crookston, CHEDA, Tri-Valley as well as other organizations in our region that align with our mission and add value to our community.

This year, our focus is on creating a culture of high expectations. We have reviewed some of our practices and current expectations both internally and externally as we look to create a culture of high expectations. The definition of the word “culture” is the “set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”. At Crookston Public Schools we hope to have high expectations embedded into the fabric of our organization. We must devote ourselves to high expectations for ourselves in all programs and activities that are under the umbrella of Crookston Public Schools with excellence as the standard not the exception. We also want you to realize that this takes time as we evaluate our programs, activities, and curriculum to meet this standard of excellence. Seldom does lasting change happen overnight and I want to be clear that this will be a process over several years as we continue to evaluate our programs, make adjustments where needed, and continue to have high expectations with excellence as our standard.   

Crookston Public Schools has also initiated work around exceptional systems of support for our students by making significant investments in our Title I program as well as investing in our intervention program at Crookston High School. At the end of last year, the School Board doubled the Title I instructional staff to provide additional support to students who are struggling in the subjects of reading or math. In addition to this we have also continued our intervention program at Crookston High School for students who need additional assistance in 7th and 8th grade. At the 9-12th grade level, we are in the process of revamping our curriculum and expectations for our Alternative Learning Program.

Preschool

Over the course of this summer we have added an additional Preschool Teacher to meet the demand for our growing Preschool Program. Our program currently has 106 students registered which makes this the largest preschool enrollment that Crookston has ever had. The Preschool Program has grown over the last few years and has become a significant part of our students' educational journey.

I am proud of the progress that we are making in our schools and I am proud of our staff that have worked so hard to make our schools a better place for kids and families! I also want to say thank you to our community for your continued support of Crookston Public Schools! Together we can and will achieve the excellence that we desire! Go Pirates!

Quarantine Guidelines

We wanted to communicate the following guidelines so that you were aware of how to avoid quarantines and how these decisions would be made this year. Our goal is to limit the disruption in our schools and keep students in school and in activities. We plan on starting school at level 2 of our safety plan. Level 2 of our safety plan requires social distancing at the elementary level and recommends masks for all individuals, however, does not require masks. 

The manner in which individuals were quarantined posed some major challenges to our parents last year and we are looking to safely limit the number of quarantines this year. If individuals are identified as close contacts the following exemptions can be made to avoid quarantine. 

Any student or adult who is fully vaccinated and is not experiencing symptoms would not have to quarantine.

Any student or adult who regardless of vaccination status is identified during the close contact investigation to have properly worn a mask and is not exhibiting symptoms regardless of whether or not the positive case was wearing a mask would not have to be quarantined. *

*Subject to change. If the situation changes as we get more info during the school year this may need to be amended. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at 218-770-8717 or email me at jeremyolson@isd593.org. 

Jeremy Olson