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September 25, 2020

8/11/2020 2:18:00 PM
Northland School Board: Discusses how to begin School in the Fall
By Kyndra Johnson of the Press-Citizen

If school were to start tomorrow the decision on how to start the year out would be all students back to school as normal, but with three weeks left before the first day of school there is to much uncertainty to make a recommendation stated Superintendent Pat Rendle at the Thursday, August 6 regular board meeting. With numerous citizens and teachers attending the meeting to learn the recommendations from the administration to the board, there was some disappointment to learn there is still no decision to be made. Instead, they will have to wait until Thurs., Aug. 13 for the recommendation at a special board meeting.

Rendle stated that he really would like to see the students back in the building this fall as it is in the best interest for all of the students, but with the restrictions that Goverenor Walz has put into place it may not be possible. There is no hurry to make a decision right now as there is still three weeks left, and a lot can change in that time frame as cases are changing on a daily basis. Currently the COVID case number is around 8 per 10,000, which is still within the range for all students to attend in-person learning, if the number rises to 10-19 per 10,000 then the district would be looking at only elementary students attending in-person and a hybrid learning for secondary. These cases are determined by the Department of Health and based off of cases over a fourteen day period for each county.

Rendle also mentioned the districts intentions and goals are to have as many students in the building as safely as possible. If school was to resume in-person this fall, it was noted that masks would be required per the governor's orders. Rendle stated that this was not something the district could dismiss and if students did not want to wear a mask then they would be required to attend school via distance learning until the mask mandate is lifted or they choose to wear a mask. Board member Miranda Chambers asked if administration was going to present a class schedule with their recommendation at next weeks special board meeting. Rendle stated that there is still too much uncertainty, as after a recommendation is made and approval from the board on how to begin school, parents would need to be contacted to see how they wish to have their child attend school. The district may end up with numerous parents stating that due to circumstances and restrictions they feel their child would be best at home. The other piece to the puzzle is whether teachers are going to feel comfortable or capable, due to health, in teaching face-to-face. Therefore, administration will match up those teachers with distance learning students.

Board member Aaron Ammerman questioned how the district was going to handle the situation if a teacher ended up testing positive for COVID-19, would they be able to Zoom into the classroom? Rendle said that is part of the Human Resource puzzle that is being worked on and the district will have to get creative when dealing with those situations.

Board Chair Marc Ruyak stated that he would like everyone to know that the safety of the students and staff is the number one priority for the district. With that being said he feels that the guidelines the governor has put into place are horribly restrictive with the numbers being cases per 10,000 and with the mask mandate. He mentioned that he would like the board over the next week to think about the mask mandate and what the district's policy is on them.

In other Board action:

• Heard from Max Torgerson, Athletic Director, on the MN High School Leagues announcement to move Football and Volleyball to the spring of 2021. It was mentioned that Cross Country will be held this fall, but practices will not be allowed until after school begins. Torgerson also mentioned that the MSHSL is allowing some practices for football and volleyball this fall along with practices for baseball and softball due to the season being cancelled this past spring. He mentioned that the coaches of these sports were going to have a meeting within the next week to discuss how to hold practices to allow all students participate in all of these sports as the school has numerous students that are multi-sport participants.

• Approve the hire of David Kitchenhoff and Sarah Dixon, both as bus drivers effective Aug. 7.

• Accepted the resignation of Bruce Morphew as custodian effective Aug. 5.

• Accepted the resignation of Mike Horn as History Grant Advisor and as Marzano Mentoring Coordinator.

• Accept quotes from ESC Systems for building sound systems for a total of $82,003. It was noted that there were two quotes received and this sound system is needed in order to be able to communicate with the Early Childhood building via intercom. It will also add speakers to the commons area to allow for events in the future.

The board has scheduled the following meetings: a special meeting, Thurs., Aug. 13, 2020 at 5:30 p.m., a work session, Thurs., August 20 at 5:30 p.m., associate negotiations committee meeting, Aug. 25 and 27 both at 3:30 p.m. and the regular meeting, Thurs., Sept. 3, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. all meetings are held at Northland High School.


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