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Schools closed March 18-27 by governor’s executive order

 KC, Lancaster, Tri-County work on distance education plans

By Anna Jauhola
As the novel coronavirus continues its spread across the United States, Gov. Tim Walz announced Sunday, March 15, that all schools will close March 18 through March 27.
Kittson Central in Hallock, Lancaster School and Tri-County School in Karlstad began preparations for the closures on Sunday when the superintendents met in the afternoon. Staff at all three schools started their plans on Monday.
“The shutdown period is designed for planning for the school districts to come up with distance learning plans for all students,” said Bob Jaszczak, Kittson Central superintendent. “This is for kindergarten, any special needs students, through high school and colleges. It encompasses everybody.”
The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has spread quickly through the Twin Cities metro area with 34 positive cases as of Monday, March 16.
There is one confirmed case in North Dakota and four positive cases in Manitoba, Canada. The best defense against this disease, according to healthcare professionals, is common sense thorough handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and social distancing of at least 6 feet, as well as staying home if you feel ill.
In the event of an extended school closure, students may see a combination of distance learning through remote connections to the classrooms along with take-home work, and beyond.
At this point, there are no solid plans and the districts are working to get information out as soon as possible to let parents know what to expect, Jaszczak said.
“We may end up having homework drop off points, homework pickup points. Right now, we have everything on the table because our goal as a school is we want to make sure what we do is meaningful and beneficial for our kids, our parents and our community,” he said. “That’s what’s most important to us.”
All activities and practices have been suspended until further notice, this includes the senior class trips, which were scheduled for later this spring. Jaszczak said the district remains open to the possibility of rearranging the schedule and planning on a different class trip, depending on how the whole situation plays out.
Shannon Hunstad, Lancaster superintendent, said they have made no decisions yet whether to cancel the senior class trip scheduled for May or the sixth grade class trip scheduled for mid-April. They also have no definitive thoughts on how the graduation ceremony may proceed in May.
The in-place suspensions may last longer than the shutdown period to help prevent large groups from gathering and because there’s no specific indication whether school will resume on March 30. Should Kittson Central remain closed, then students would learn via the internet. Jaszczak said the district has enough devices to supplement those who do not have access at home.
During this closure, schools will offer grab-and-go meals and may offer delivery along bus routes, per Walz’s executive order. The order also requires schools across the state to provide childcare for elementary children of those who work in healthcare and other emergency professions.
Lancaster, Kittson Central and Tri-County are all working on those plans or have put plans in place for meals already. Check out their websites to find out where you can pick-up meals and whether you can have them delivered.
Each district is also working on daycare for those children ages 4 to 12 whose parents are in the emergency care professions.
Over the next week and a half, students will not have homework or any kind of instructional learning, Jaszczak said. This eight-day shutdown will be more like Christmas or a spring break. However, he warns against kids gathering in large groups because that would defeat the purpose of the entire shutdown.
According to Walz’s executive order, the days spent on this shutdown will not affect districts’ schedules and will be forgiven, which allows schools to complete the year on time.
“Once we have this plan developed, we’ll have it going forward for similar issues,” Jaszczak said.
In the meantime, each school will update its district through websites, Facebook and other communications.
Kittson Central School Website
Look for updates both here and on the school’s Facebook page.

Lancaster School Website
Look for updates both here and on the school’s Facebook page.

Tri-County School Website
They have a specific page dedicated to COVID-19 information related to the school and across the state. Also look for updates on the school’s Facebook page.

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