First let me say thank you to all who are helping our communities to fight the battle against Covid-19.

There are so many of these workers that state of Minnesota has created two classifications of such helpers Tier 1 (frontline workers like health care workers and emergency responders) and Tier 2 (support workers like those who deliver food to grocery stores, store workers who make sure there is a continual supply of essential items like food, and so many others).

Tier 2 workers include school employees who have been tasked with feeding all kids in the community ages 18 and younger. It also includes Jays Nest workers who are providing the necessary childcare to the children of emergency workers. Lastly, it includes our teachers who have been asked to create a robust and equitable distance learning plan so that all of our students preschool through 12th grade can continue their learning remotely.

This is an extraordinary ask of our educators in this unprecedented time. Yet across the state, across the country, and right here is Waseca, educators are redesigning instruction to meet the challenge. We are not perfect and we will make mistakes, but we will learn from our mistakes. Our learning will help us improve our programs every day. We must account for every staff members’ and students’ work in order to qualify for our normal state funding. We are charged to do this in the context of often unreliable internet, untested (at least at this level) tools, stressed families (including our own) and a multitude of other factors. Yet we are up to the challenge.

Our teachers are demonstrating problem solving, creativity, collaboration and new ways of communicating like never before. These are 21st century skills that we want all of our kids to develop. This difficult time has provided an opportunity for all of us to develop new skills and out-of-the-box thinking. The leadership from the Department of Health and the Department of Education has been outstanding as they provided daily guidance for over two weeks as we delivered meals, childcare and prepared to deliver distance learning. The collaboration between districts has been the highest I have seen in my 40 years in education.

COVID-19 has challenged every person and element of our society. I am extremely proud of the response of Waseca Public Schools. Everyone has been working to make all of the things we have been charged to do work for our students and families. If you want to learn more about our efforts and our results, please turn to our website. We will update our outcomes transparently and regularly. The citizens of Waseca deserve no less.

Tom Lee is the superintendent of Waseca Public Schools

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