On Sunday, March 15, Gov. Tim Walz ordered that schools would be closed from March 16 through the 27 in order to have time to plan for extended closures for schools. This time would allow staff and administration to develop an equitable plan for distance learning that would meet the learning needs of our students.

Our administration and staff have been diligently working together to develop a distance learning plan in order for it to be completed and posted on our website on March 27. At LS-H, we have an amazing staff collaborating together to ensure that learning and instruction will take place, either on site or by distance learning starting on March 30.

To assist with this process, on March 24 and 25, families will be able to pick up their students’ 1-1 device, school supplies, and packets of learning. LS-H was going to implement a K-12 1-1 policy for the 2020-21 school year. The governor’s order just allowed us to put the plan in place right now and moving forward.

Some of the challenges we must address with distance learning are meeting the needs of those students that require additional support though programs such as special education, English as a Second Language, enrichment, Title I reading and math, and those who receive special support through 504 learning plans. We also have students who work closely with our guidance counselors for many reasons. We want to ensure that the supports they need to be successful are provided to them during extended closures.

Gov. Walz also provided guidance that we should continue to feed our children, plus provide daycare for those in the health and emergency fields as well school-aged children of teachers. Our food service served 364 breakfasts, 464 lunches last week to LS-H and St. Anne’s students. Our bus company delivered meals to those who were not able to pick up meals at the MS/HS in Le Sueur and at Hilltop in Henderson. The Rotarians also continued working with the district in order to provide 63 backpacks filled with food to our kiddos.

At LS-H, we are practicing the guidelines of the Department of Health. We are stressing washing hands, covering our coughs and sneezes, social distancing, and staying home if one feels sick. We also are taking children’s temperature when they arrive for childcare. Our school nurse, Molly Thelman, has worked very hard to keep the district apprised of the recommendations and guidelines provided by MDH.

There are many unanswered questions as we face the new challenges that COVID-19 presents. However, our staff at LS-H are Minnesota Educators who are determined and able to meet these challenges head on. I can’t praise our educational teams enough for the work they are doing, the solutions they are finding, and innovations that they are developing to serve our students.

Marlene Johnson is the superintendent of St. Peter Public Schools.

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