Lancaster School Board discusses distance learning
By Anna Jauhola
The Lancaster School Board discussed last week at length the district’s initial plans while the school is closed due to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak.
The board held its regular meeting at the school on Thursday, March 19 but changed the venue to the math classroom upstairs to ensure social distancing.
As of last week, all school staff was on duty with many of the teachers completing their planning for distance education. In this instance, the Minnesota Department of Education agrees teachers can go home through the rest of the initial eight-day closure if their plans are in place. However, the school board agreed that teachers need to continue coming to school to preserve equality among the staff.
“We’ve got to stick together in this,” said Superintendent Shannon Hunstad.
The teachers who attended the board meeting – Cory Waling, Kristi Steen and Nicole Thompson – agreed that teachers should remain at the school during the eight-day period. However, they noted that some staff are concerned about COVID-19 and are nervous about the close proximity. The teachers said they’ll continue talking about this issue this week to find ways to handle the situation.
“There is a real fear of being at the school. They are nervous of interacting with people,” Thompson said.
She added that most teachers have come up with great plans of how to keep in contact with their students should the eight-day period turn into a longer school shutdown. For example, high school students will attend classes virtually twice a week, meaning they will log in each hour of the school day and participate in class. Students in grades 2 through 12 will have Google Chromebooks sent home to them and kindergarten and first-graders will get iPads. Teachers will continue planning this week.
Otherwise, the food service workers provided hot and cold lunches last week to an increasing number of students. On Wednesday, March 18, they served 50 meals, on Thursday, they served 80 meals, and on Friday, they served more than 130 meals. This week, the school began not only serving to-go meals from the school, but also began delivering meals via the bus routes.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the 2020-21 food service agreement;
• Amended the budget by adding the student activity fund to the general fund;
• Approved anonymous monetary meal donations to help cover delinquent accounts.
• Approved Laura Reese as a science mentor starting fall 2020; Reese is on leave for the 2020-21 school year, but will mentor student teacher Annaliese Johnson throughout the year at a cost of $9,000 for the year.
• Approved Kim Clark as a long-term substitute teacher starting fall 2020, which will cost the district $19,590.
• Approved hiring elementary teacher Kaitlynn Wilson starting fall 2020 at the salary of $44,587.
• Approved hiring Denise Strege as the junior high track coach, $2,627. The board had to formally approve the hiring, regardless of whether the school year and activities resume.
• Approved the resignation of Alana Scalese as junior high volleyball coach.