Schools in Osakis are rising to the challenge of taking precautions against the coronavirus pandemic.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ordered all of the state’s K-12 schools to be closed from March 18 through at least Friday, March 27.
But at Osakis Public Schools, a lot of learning and activity is still taking place to ensure the health and safety of teachers, staff and students.
All teachers and staff have reported to the school building, unless they are considered "at risk" as identified by the Minnesota Department of Health, according to Randy Bergquist, superintendent. Administration has personally visited with almost every teacher and staff member to help ease any anxiety they may have, he added.
Bergquist said the district is taking other actions as well:
Bus drivers have cleaned every bus from top to bottom.
Custodial staff and paraprofessionals have been cleaning and will continue to clean the school from top to bottom.
Teaching staff has been working very hard to ensure all students have equitable access to learning.
Teaching staff have also worked with each other by grade level and discipline curricular area to ensure everyone is ready to go starting Monday, March 30. The district is providing free meals to any student 0-18 years old.
“We are going to have our school ‘drive thru’ ability for parents to pick up food for up to five days for their kids,” Bergquist said Friday, March 20. “This will take place every day next week (March 23-27) between 9 and 11 a.m. We are also going to start providing food delivery for parents who sign up between 9 and 11 a.m. starting next Tuesday (March 24).”
Bergquist added the district is calling all parents who have identified that they have no internet accessibility at their home and working with them to ensure they have accessibility for their students.
All students in grades 7-12 have Chromebooks at home already, Bergquist noted. The district is going to have a "drive thru" capability next Thursday, March 26 for parents with students in grades 3-6 to pick up their Chromebook. If parents are not able to "drive thru," the district will deliver necessary technology and curriculum in the weeks to come, if needed.
“Our secretaries and district office staff have worked closely with teachers, paras, and administration to ensure everything is running to the best of our ability,” Bergquist said. “This includes meal plans, curriculum and technology plans, regular business paperwork and paying of bills and payroll. We can't forget these administrative assistants who are continuing to run our school.”
Osakis schools are closed to any outside individuals but school staff continue to come in, Bergquist said.
“I have personally witnessed and have heard many of our staff step up and do things that are technically not their job,” he said. “I am so impressed and happy with all of our teaching and staff members because they have been working hard, setting aside any differences they may have, and worked together with no complaining.”
Bergquist said the district is constantly monitoring updates from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Education and communicating updates as the district goes through this.
“It is apparent to me that all of us are working hard to be ready for our students on Monday, March 30,” Bergquist added.
Because of the coronavirus, pre-school registrations will be done by mail this spring. An open house may be held later this spring, if circumstances allow, so that children and parents can see the classrooms first-hand. Registration officially opens on Monday, March 30 but those with forms are encouraged to send them in. For questions, contact Jan Campbell at 320-859-2191, ext. 1171 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Agnes School
Precautionary measures are also being taken at St. Agnes School.
“Teachers have sent work home during this brief closure,” said Principal Pat Pospisil. “In the event that this is a long-term closure, teachers are preparing how they will communicate with their students for distance learning instruction to happen. Not every detail is worked out yet. Emails will be sent to parents with continual updates through this learning process.”
No meals are being prepared at St. Agnes School, however, parents are able to contact Osakis Public School to receive meals.
On the second day of schools being closed, St. Agnes School received a Facebook comment from a parent about how well the school was handling it: "St. Agnes was on top of it! Each teacher had a schedule all planned out, along with printed books, worksheets, activities and lessons all prepared online. The teachers worked all weekend making sure their students would be set up for a successful transition. Thank you to these wonderful teachers!"
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