Perham-Dent elementary students will start the school attending classes in person while older students will use a mix of in-person instruction and distance learning.
The Perham-Dent School Board approved the plan for the 2020-21 school year and other COVID-19 related matters.
The first day of school at Perham Public Schools is set for Monday, Aug. 31. All students will be split into two groups, groups A and B, with all students who reside in the same household being in the same group.
Preschool through sixth grade will start as all in-person learning and seventh grade through seniors will be starting with hybrid learning. Students learning under the hybrid model will run on the A B schedule, group A will learn in-person Mondays and Tuesdays and distance learn Wednesdays through Fridays while group B distance learns Monday through Wednesday and in-person learning Thursdays and Fridays.
In addition, students in eighth grade will be moved from the Prairie Winds Middle School to the high school to allow for better social distancing.
As the fall progresses and county data on COVID-19 stays under 10 active cases, all students could be changed over to in-person learning, or if COVID-19 case numbers increase, there may need to be more distance learning. Families need to have plans in place for if and when the learning model is changed.
All families have the option of doing distance learning all year and may opt-in or out of this option at any time.
The school will provide supervision and support for those who need internet access and special education students on their distance learning days at the school. WiFi at the high school will be extended out into the parking lot for those who need to download their homework and take it home.
If the school moves to more distance learning, child care with educational instruction will be provided for all children of essential works under the age of 12.
The plans were approved after the district's Incident Command Team and Otter Tail County Public Health Director Jody Lien considered how to best start the school year based on data and how to best educate the students while keeping them safe during the pandemic.
The board also approved in this resolution for Superintendent Mitch Anderson and the Incident Command Team to have the power to change the learning model during COVID-19 without consulting the board if it would be impractical for them to do so for the sake of timeliness.
Other business discussed by the board:
Students will continue to be bused as needed, with a survey going to families to find out who is reliant on school busing and who could wave busing for their students. Currently, the school is looking at busing students who live in rural areas first and then students living inside of town to limit the number of students on the buses at once.
Parents will be asked to not send their students to school if they are feeling unwell and to self-monitor students for fevers. The school nurses will do some monitoring at school as needed. Communication on how to tell the difference between the flu, COVID-19, and cold symptoms will also be established as needed.
All pick up for elementary students at Heart of the Lakes Elementary will be staggered by groups A and B and will be done from the loop. Families will have a set pick up time and students whose families are last to pick them up will be taken to the office to wait for them.
$5,000 was donated to the school by Michael Filipovich for COVID-19 related needs.
The Jacket Fishing Team bought a boat and gave it as a gift to the school for use on fishing league nights. The school will own the boat and insure it through the school.
The board approved for the position of community relations director to be created and posted for the schools. The person in that position will be responsible for the development of communications, including public relations and marketing programs, for Perham Public Schools to ensure a favorable image is maintained and services and programs promoted,
The board also approved to change athletes’ impact testing, which tests student-athletes for concussions, from every year to two every two years. This change will give a more accurate reading on if the student has recovered from a concussion or if the student has done the test so many times that they have it memorized to the point where they can do it with a concussion.