St. Peter Public Schools got the 2020-21 school year started Wednesday, and things looked different than they have in years past.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the state and country are doing things differently, adding precautions to help slow any potential spread of the disease and allow students to learn in school safely.

In St. Peter, the public school district is using an every other day model, where half the students come in on Mondays and Wednesdays, while the other half comes in Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays are distance learning days for all students. Students in pre-k programs will continue as usual, full-time in-person, with smaller class sizes.

While in school, students will be required to wear faces masks, or when needed, face shields, and they’ll be expected to keep socially distanced. The same rules will apply to teachers and staff.

For Superintendent Bill Gronseth, who just arrived take over the position in St. Peter after finishing up in Duluth this summer, it’s been a preparation time like no other. But he said he got a lot of help from the team that was already in place here.

“A lot of work happens before I even arrived, and as soon as I started, they were ready to jump in and really start refining some of the details of the three scenarios,” he said. “It’s not been what any of us saw coming, of course; we’ve heard that before. But there is also opportunity to refine our craft as teachers, as educators, and I think staff has really taken on that challenge. At the center of everything is they really care about the students and their future and their education, and we want to give these families a really good learning experience.”

As part of the back-to-school plan, it’s clearly noted that as data changes, the learning system will change, too. It’s likely that the hybrid learning system will change as the year progresses.

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