The Cloquet School District is still working on finalizing the details of the school reopening plan. From busing students to providing meals to distance learners, the last details are still being ironed out, said Superintendent Michael Cary.
“We’re closely monitoring those COVID-19 numbers,” Cary said.
It is possible that numbers can increase by the time school starts Sept. 9. If that happens, he said the Cloquet School District will still open up fully. He said the district has up to five days to transition to the next learning model after the COVID-19 numbers go above the safe number.
Distance learning will look different from spring classes, Cary said. Students will be expected to sign in to their classes and participate during regular school hours, unlike the spring distance learning.
School board member Nate Sandman asked how many students have signed up for distance learning. Cary said there are currently 400 signed up and he is anticipating about 200 more will sign up by the time school starts.
Sandman asked for clarification on the expectations of distance learning students. Cary replied that they are expected to sign on and attend classes with their peers.
"Our distance learners are not getting less of an education," Cary said.
Meal delivery will also look different in the new school year.
Buses will be used to get students to and from school, so they will no longer be available to deliver meals once school is back in session, Cary said.
Parents can order meals in advance by phone or online. Parents will be responsible to pick up their children's meals from the school, Cary said. As the school year progresses, officials may tweak the meal pick up times to better accommodate parents' schedules.
School board member Hawk (Gary) Huard asked how the school will handle a student who shows symptoms of COVID-19 in school.
Cary said the district is asking all parents to screen their children before they go to school. If someone exhibits symptoms during the school day, they will be sent to the nurse's office, he said. There will be a separate space set aside for the student to wait for a ride home.
Bus routes are still under discussion, as well.
Cary said he is in the midst of discussing bus options with Cloquet Transit. He would like to have one or two more buses available in addition to the 16 already being utilized by the school district.
Cary explained that in the event that the district needs to move to a hybrid learning model for secondary students and continue in-class learning for elementary students, the students will need to ride on separate buses.
The other option is to have a two tier bus system where the buses pick up elementary students, then go back to pick up secondary students, Cary said. That option would cost more money and cause problems because they would need to change the school start time, he said.
Part of the extra cost of adding another bus can be partially paid for using money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.