The state-mandated eight-day closure of public schools will allow the Perham-Dent district time to prepare for remote and e-learning in the event that they are not allowed to reopen the schools on March 30.
The Perham-Dent School Board discussed the plans at its regular meeting Monday, March 16.
School will be closed for eight days starting Wednesday, March 18, on Gov. Tim Walz's orders due to the COVID-19 emergency.
The school must have a plan in place by March 27, and it is the intent of the district to have one in place by March 26, Superintendent Mitch Anderson said.
The school will be taking it week by week to provide the best educational experience that they can to their students during this time of crisis, Anderson said.
The board heard updates from around the district on the response to the coronavirus outbreak:
- Students in grades seven through 12 already take home Chromebooks every day; these grades will be using online educational tools such as Moodle and Google Classroom. Some blocked sites, such as Skype, will be unlocked on the students' Chromebooks to allow for as much interaction between students, teachers and classmates for classwork as possible.
- Students and parents are being asked to let the school know what internet resources that they have at home, so that the schools can work on a plan to make sure that all students have access to education at this time.
- Arvig is offering internet assistance for families, who qualify, to help keep education going during this time.
- The elementary school is looking at creative ways to keep the learning going while the students cannot be in the classroom while working to make sure that all learning is not packet only or all online. The elementary school realizes that not all families have internet and that children should not be spending too much screen-time every day. They will be using these next several days to come up with the best plan for their students at this time.
- The high school is working to make sure that seniors marked to graduate in May will still be able to finish their high school education. Graduation events will have to be decided about as the COVID-19 emergency progresses.
- During the eight-day closure, the schools will be undergoing sanitization and maintenance in preparation for students' return.
- The school will be providing child care for essential workers: health care workers, police, EMS, and so forth. The school is expecting between 65-70 children.
- The school will be extending its summer breakfast and lunch program to all children 18 and younger in the Perham area. The meals will be a brown bag grab-and-go starting Wednesday, March 18. The school is going to start with 1,000 meals then see how many are needed.
- All hourly staff will still be working through this time helping in areas such as child care, the meal program and cleaning the buildings.
- The staff will be remotely available to the students and parents starting on March 30.
- A mental health number and remote service will also be available to students at this time.
Other business discussed by the board:
- Spring sports coaches have been approved pending the resumption of sports. Winter sports are over, spring sports will tentatively resume on April 6, depending on when students are allowed back at school.
- Because the planned building projects for 2021 are more than $400,000, Perham-Dent Schools qualify to start before Labor Day for the 2020-21 school year. The board approved the start day of Aug. 31, a four-day Labor Day weekend, and to end school by Memorial Day.
- A 5% tuition increase was approved for Kids Achievement Preschool. The reason for the increase is due to the decrease in enrollment each year and the lack of an increase in tuition over the past two to three years. The increase will be an increase of $5 a week, which will be a $10 increase a month for half-day students and a $20 a month increase for full-day students. The increase will help recover revenue for tuition loss, but will not fix the tuition loss.
- Enrollment is up seven students and enrollment is at a flat 1,550 students.
- The board approved adding additional part-time math instructors for grades seven through 12 for the 2020-21 school year.
The next Perham-Dent School Board meeting is planned for Wednesday, April 8.
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