After four weeks of employees receiving vaccines, the Perham-Dent School district has had 156 employees optionally receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state allocated certain amounts to each school district, according to Superintendent Mitch Anderson.

The school has prioritized staff with spots for six people in the first week and 18 the second week. The following two weeks increased to 120 people as Otter Tail County Public Health prioritized educators and school employees, Anderson said.

Prairie Winds Middle School and Perham High School are also preparing for the phased return of in-person learning. The schools are hoping for a calm transition as students have not been able to be fully in-person for almost one year. Middle school Principal Scott Bjerke said anxiousness and nervousness are “really high,” as parents, students and counselors have shared.

Students in 7-9th grade will return on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Students in 10-12th grade return on Monday, Feb. 22. Distance learning will remain on Wednesdays. For the week of Feb. 16-19, 10-12th graders will follow the cohort schedule of Group A in-person on Tuesday and Wednesday and Group B in-person on Thursday and Friday.

Distance learning is a continued option available.

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As of Feb. 10, 29 students and staff are out due to quarantine or testing positive for COVID-19.

"By no means are we out of the woods on this. It's still a threat we have to be prepared for and unfortunately it means we still are calling families to let them know that their son or daughter might be out for their quarantine period," Anderson said.

Other business discussed by the board:

  • Heart of the Lakes Elementary will have phone and virtual parent conferences on March 1 and 2.

  • Approved the resignations of Dan Buchin (school psychologist), Mary Karkela (high school instructor), Marilyn Barry (elementary instructor) and Garry Grewe (8th grade boys’ basketball coach).

  • Approved bond refinancing to save around $100,000 a year from 2025-37.

  • Approved a 2020-21 budget revision with general revenue revised to $19,150,203 from $19,046,035 and general expenditures to $20,483,827 from $20,329,112. The change comes as districts across the state have experienced decreased enrollment and increased expenses due to the pandemic. The district has received funds from the CARES Act, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund.

  • The next meeting is March 10 at 5 p.m. and is planned to be in the high school media center.